As a teacher, I am often faced with questions regarding Santa’s existence from my students. Of course I reassure them that he does exist, and I am grateful for the opportunity to preserve their innocence a little while longer. For the students who are more skeptical, I always turn to Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus by Francis P. Church. This beautiful story expounds upon the idea of Santa Claus and presents a more adult interpretation while still maintaining the veracity of the “jolly old elf.” This book has brought such magic to my family’s holiday season and I hope it does the same for yours!
The Small One is based off of a short movie by the same name produced by Disney in 1978. I have to confess, every time I watch the movie and read the book, I become extremely misty-eyed. It is the tale of a boy who must sell his donkey who is too old to work for the family. After several adventures in the market place and failing to find someone willing to take him in, the donkey leads the boy back to the butcher, ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for his family. At the moment when the two are saying good-bye and all hope seems lost, a humble carpenter asks to purchase the donkey to carry his very pregnant wife to Bethlehem. The boy accepts, knowing he has found the right family to care for his beloved friend. In a twist reminiscent of O. Henry, the end of this story is the beginning of the Nativity. I hope you and your family enjoy this touching narrative as much as I do!
Since before I can remember, The Gift of the Magi has been one of my favorite stories. I absolutely love the themes of sacrifice, selfless giving and putting others before yourself that the book explores. O. Henry’s elegant and suspenseful prose grabs the audience’s attention from the very beginning. And the master of the surprise ending provides an emotional tour de force at the conclusion that readers won’t soon forget. In this season of giving, this classic reminds us that it is truly better to give than receive. As the Prayer of St. Francis states, “it is in giving that we receive.” I hope that you and your family enjoy this holiday classic as much as I have!
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!
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?
“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!
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!