The Nutcracker

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When I was a little girl, my parents took me and my sister to the Nutcracker ballet every year. It was one of the highlights of the Christmas season. I have loved the story of the Nutcracker since before I can remember. When I was about five or six, all I wanted was a Nutcracker for Christmas and to be just like Clara. To my delight, I opened the most beautiful nutcracker on Christmas morning and I spent the next several days listening to the music and dancing the part of Clara all over our basement. Naturally, reading The Nutcracker by ETA Hoffman has become a Christmas tradition for me and my enjoyment of story has not abated, though I am no longer a little girl. I hope this story fills your holidays with as much magic as it has mine! 

 

 

 

 

 

A Ghostly Christmas Tale

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Perhaps one of the most iconic Christmas books ever written is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Its timeless characters and themes have become almost synonymous with the holidays. With its classic story and multiple adaptations, this book has something for everyone. I absolutely love reading this tale every Christmas (and debating with my family which movie version is the best)! The themes of forgiveness and redemption are especially poignant this time of year. It is an excellent reminder to be kind and compassionate to everyone, even the least among us. And on a lighter note, I absolutely love the scenes of victorian London! One of my favorite adaptations is Mickey’s Christmas Carol. My siblings and I watched the 1983 cartoon every year when we were little. I hope you and your family enjoy this tradition as much as we have! 

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Christmas Correspondence

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With less than a week before Christmas, I am sure that there is a deluge of letters to the North Pole bearing last-minute requests from children all over the world. As a girl, I would spend hours perfecting my own missives to the jolly elf. There is something thrilling about sending or receiving something in the post, which is why I have always loved The Jolly Christmas Postman. It is the sequel to The Jolly Postman, which recounts the adventures of a postman as he delivers letters to various fairy tale characters. In this yuletide companion, the postman rides again, this time delivering holiday wishes to his customers. I hope you enjoy this charming tale as much as I do and that the postman brings you something special this holiday season!

 

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Posadas and Poinsettias

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Right now the Hispanic Catholic community is celebrating Las Posadas. It is a tradition spanning the nine days before Christmas marking Joseph and Mary’s journey and search for a place to say in the Nativity story. I absolutely love this holiday celebration and it reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tommie dePaola. It tells the story of how the Poinsettia and the practice of using it as a Christmas decoration came to be. For me, the loveliness of this plant reminds me of the beauty of this season. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I do! 

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Happy Jolabokaflod!

As it is a week before Christmas, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod. On Christmas Eve, the people of Iceland exchange books with each other and spend the evening reading. (Show of hands, how many of you are now looking up airfare to Iceland? Ok, good, it’s not just me 🙂 ) In preparation, there is a flurry of books published and purchased in the months leading up to Christmas. This market for Christmas stories is known as Jolabokaflod, which reflects the highly literary quality of the Icelandic people. I, for one, can’t wait to start this tradition with my own family! Reading and Christmas all rolled up into one perfect pack, what’s not to love?

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A Visit from Saint Nicholas

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“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;” 

Clement C. Moore’s immortal words have defined Christmas for generations. One of my favorite Christmas memories is my father reading that story to me and my siblings year after year. Though it is not Christmas Eve, I thought this would be an excellent book to discuss today because tomorrow marks the feast of Saint Nicholas of Myra, the fourth century Bishop from whom the legend of Santa Claus originates. As a girl, I would set my shoes out every December 5th and eagerly anticipate what I would find in them the next morning. It has always been one of my favorite celebrations of the Christmas season. I hope you and your families treasure this story like I do and have a wonderful visit from Saint Nicholas! 

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Happy Birthday Louisa May Alcott!

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Today marks the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott. She is famous for introducing the world to the beloved March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Alcott’s focus on sisterhood, women’s issues and other themes, and her exploration of ordinary American life during the Civil War revolutionized the literary world. The courage and grace with which the sisters face life’s ups and downs continues to inspire readers today. The opening story arch of Little Women is one of my personal favorites. It is so appropriate for this time of year as it centers around how the March women celebrate Christmas without their father who is fighting in the Civil War. I hope you appreciate Alcott’s work as much as I do! 

 

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The Crippled Lamb

Happy Advent everyone! This is one of my favorite times of year as we prepare for Christmas. In honor of the first Sunday of Advent, I thought I would share one of my favorite Christmas books, The Crippled Lamb. It tells the story of Joshua, a crippled lamb who feels lonely and left out because he can’t play like the other lambs. His only friend is a cow, Abigail. However, one special night, these two friends learn that God always has a plan, even for the least among us. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I do! 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! In honor of this holiday, I thought I would publish a list of Thanksgiving themed books. Enjoy! 

 

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving 

The Story of the Pilgrims

…If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 

The Thanksgiving Story 

Sarah Morton’s Day

P is for Pilgrim  

 

Beren and Lúthien

I have always loved J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings trilogy. I can remember reading them with my father when I was a little girl. Tolkien’s mastery of the English language, his vivid story telling, and the magic of Middle Earth have captivated me my entire life. This is why I was thrilled to discover recently that one of his unpublished works would finally be available. Beren and Lúthien draws from material in the History of Middle Earth to tell the tale of the title characters. I look forward to delving into this latest installment of Middle Earth and I hope you enjoy it as well! Thanks to The Tolkien Society and The Wall Street Journal for the information! 

H/T The Tolkien Society 

“The earliest version of the tale of Beren and Lúthien was written in 1917, when Beren was an Elf not a Man and the equivalent of Sauron was a large evil cat.

The story underwent considerable revision throughout Tolkien’s life, and was reworked in both prose and poetry. The new book will demonstrate this evolution.” 

H/T The Wall Street Journal 

“In 1917, after returning from the Battle of the Somme, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a story inspired by his wife, Edith. Titled ‘Beren and Lúthien,’ it was a Middle-earth tale about a mortal man who falls in love with an immortal elf.

Though he never published it, the story was close to his heart. It formed the kernel of his book, ‘The Silmarillion.’ And years later, he had the characters’ names engraved on the gravestone he shared with his wife.

Next May, ‘Beren and Lúthien’ will be published, a century after it was written.” 

For these entire stories, please see The Tolkien Society and The Wall Street Journal