When I was a little girl, my Mom took me and my sister to a Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz every year at Christmas. After everyone had eaten, it was tradition for the Polar Express to be read out loud. This story has always captivated my imagination. What would it be like to travel to the North Pole and visit Santa? This book, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg ,won the 1986 Caldecott Medal, and it it is easy to see why. The whimsical writing and stunning illustrations take readers on a fantastical adventure, proving that holiday magic is everywhere, if we know where to look. This Christmas, perhaps we, too, will hear the soft jingle of a reindeer’s silver bell.
So, I have a confession. I absolutely love the Grinch! Though the term has a derogatory connotation, I believe that this seemingly simple children’s story has a deceptively complex and profound message. Though the Grinch is mean throughout the story, he atones for his actions and earns the forgiveness of Whoville at the end. As a girl, I would often wonder why the Grinch was so mean. I was convinced that there was more to the story! I my favorite part of the book is that, despite everything, the Grinch still gets his happy ending. I find that so hopeful and especially appropriate at this time of year. As Seuss reminds us, “Welcome Christmas, come this way!”
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!
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!