Every year this basket of Christmas books gets a place of honor within easy reach of little hands.
This is where it began.
I found these books in a thrift shop ages ago, not so long ago they were new when I bought them, but before I had a home and children of my own. I fell in love with the artwork – the antique look of them – and the stories. It was in one of them I first read the story of Baboushka, a woman who still wanders looking for the Baby and leaves gifts for all children just in case one of them is the Baby she searches for. It’s a Russian folk-tale that explains how presents appear on Christmas Eve. I enjoy reading about the Christmas legends from other countries and I have a collection of figurines depicting Father Christmas from around the world. One of them is Baboushka and when I set her out, she tends to ‘wander’ around the house.
The story of Baboushka is a wonderful tale for children, but as I’ve gotten older it’s taken on new meaning for me. (Doesn’t that often happen with ‘children’s’ books?) Like Baboushka, my spiritual journey wanders at times and I find myself lost or fatigued. Like her I also miss opportunities to encounter God because I’m too busy or blind to see them.
After the initial two books, adding a Christmas book became a tradition for many years.
There are those with sweet stories and beautiful artwork. After all these years, some of them still haven’t been read, we just looked at the pictures. And that’s perfectly fine with me. Christmas stories always sound better when there are littles on my lap or snuggled on the couch with me, whether we actually read the stories or make up our own as we look at the pictures. Some books tell or re-tell the Christmas story and the gifts that all of us bring during this season. They remind us that love, kindness, and simplicity are often the best gifts. In this crazy year of covid Christmas, those stories may be needed more than ever.
We aren’t serious all the time, and especially as our kids got older, they appreciated fun, silly books like Cajun Night Before Christmas and Mother Hubbard’s Christmas. At first I wondered if some of the books went over the top, so completely veered from the holy story of the Christ Child and the traditional story of Santa, that they somehow diluted the meaning of the season. They instead brought laughter and lightness that only added to the Christmas joy.
And, of course, there are the classic Golden Books, including one from my childhood, Santa’s Toy Shop.
But it’s this one that got read over and over and over.
I imagine it was this book that led to some unconventional tree decorating. But that’s a post for next week.
My friend Dawn reads to her niece and nephew every week and I have to believe she’s found some great Christmas books to read to them. Our friend Michael started a Christmas Eve tradition when his children were small of reading to them The Night Before Christmas. When his children had children, the tradition wasn’t passed down to the new moms and dads, the grandchildren gathered around Grandpa so he could still read the story to all the kids, young and old.
What Christmas story memories do you have? Any good books I should add to my Christmas basket?
As we celebrate Christmas in a different way this year, may you find the time to settle in a comfy chair with a good book, especially if you can have a child or two on your lap even virtually if necessary.
“Little Golden Books” are the best! Thank you for reintroducing me to them, Kim!
You’re welcome! They will always be my favorites. I still give the classics to all the littles in my family.