December 12, 2013
“My first copies of Treasure Island and Huckleberry Finn still have some blue-spruce needles scattered in the pages. They smell of Christmas still.”
— Charlton Heston
We have a little library of Christmas books at our house. During the month of December they sit in a basket by the fireplace just waiting for someone to sit down and flip through their pages. Most of the books are geared towards children, but they are still fun to read even as an adult. Crawling into the pages of a book, one becomes ageless anyway don’t they?
There is one book in our library that dates back to my childhood. It is titled ‘Mr Willowby’s Christmas Tree’ and it is the story of a man who purchases a Christmas tree that is too tall for his home. So, he chops off the top and gives it to his maid, who finds it too tall for her home. She proceeds to chop off the top again and passes it along to the gardener and so on and so forth until all the people and animals around Mr. Willowby’s estate have the perfect sized tree for their homes at Christmas. The story is simple, but the message of spreading Christmas cheer is so wonderful. Each year when I crack open the book, I am transported back to my childhood where I used to sit inside my closet with a little lamplight reading the story and pretending I was the mouse in Mr. Willobwy’s house, who is the final recipient of the very tippy-tippy-top of his tree.
Another book in our collection is titled ‘My Special Christmas’. This book belongs to my husband, and it was given to him back when he was 7 years-old. The book was published by Me Books Publishing Company, which offered a handful of customizable adventures for kids. The book is hand typed (yes, on an actual typewriter!) and the characters in the book are named after my husband, his family and friends and the places in the book represent places from his hometown. What a thrill it must have been to receive that book all those years ago and discover that you were the star of your very own adventure with Santa! Nowadays, you can personalize virtually anything, but back then receiving a book that actually had your name it, and the names of your family and friends was truly magical.
There are several books in our Christmas library that will be keepsakes for our own children. I know for sure that my son has already ‘placed dibs’ on one collection in particular. It is a boxed set of ‘Christmas Keepsake’ stories that are written on tiny little books that measure less than 2 inches square. Each book corresponds to a particular day between December 1st and December 25th, and the stories range in nature from classic to modern, and religious to folklore. Each day after we read a story, we hang the book on a little wire tree – starting at the bottom and working our way to the top. By the time Christmas morning rolls around, the tree is decorated with little book ornaments. This collection of books was given to my kids by their Memé (my husband’s mother) back when they were very young, but even now my son (who is sixteen!) still asks me to read the books to him during the Christmas season. Tradition is tradition after all..
I think we all have a particular Christmas story that is a childhood favorite. A story that transports us back to days when the season was filled with magic and wonder. If you do have such a story, consider yourself lucky to have a tangible connection to your past – a connection you can share with others to spread the joy of the season.