Once Upon a Christmas

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I love fall, but I’m not a fan of snow and winter.  It’s the middle of November which should be giving me pretty fall colors and cool temperatures.  Yet in my last post I jumped into the Christmas season.  I bypassed Thanksgiving on the blog (already doing enough of that with my Facebook posts) and went straight into Christmas.  I do love Christmas.

IMG_2090Today as I sit in front of the fireplace watching it snow outside, I’m not feeling like I’ve rushed it all that much.  My beautiful fall mums are covered in white.  The branches of the trees out front have colored leaves under a coating of snow.  And so I’m back with Christmas.  I ended my last post with a promise to share some books that will get you into the spirt and make great gifts for the folks on your list! 

There are traditional stories that I love to revisit year after year.  What would Christmas be without the reading of the actual Bible story (you know, the “reason for the season”? 

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Listen to Linus

You don’t need to go to the old King James version…although think of the beauty of Linus reciting that next to Charlie Brown’s tree.  The Message, the New Living Translation, and other modern tellings give a beautiful account that even children will follow and love hearing read aloud as part of a yearly transition.  (Read Luke 2:1-20 and then Matthew 2:1-12.) 

Other traditional stories truly enrich the season.  At some point you should really graduate from the Muppet version, get through the George C. Scott movie, and read the original version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  I have a favorite edition with illustrations by Greg Hildebrandt, but I’ve seen so many others that are lovely and rich with illustrations that will bring in the younger audience and old folks like me.  I also have a gorgeously illustrated copy of The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.  The story will have your children remembering Burt and Ernie sacrificially giving in the holiday special, but the illustrations in the book pictured here give it the lovely period atmosphere.  I also found a charming version of Clement C. Moore’s A Visit From St. Nicholas (’Twas the Night Before Christmas) with the original Jessie Wilcox Smith illustrations.

There are other books that I have grown so fond of over the years that they are a tradition for me to read.  If you haven’t read The Polar Express with its rich illustrations by Chris Van Allsburg, it is high time you do!  The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck, and A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg are stories adults will love disguised as children’s picture books.

You can giggle your way through Peggy Parish’s Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia or Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold.  Or you can roar with laughter with Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  (A word of warning that comes from experience:  when reading this aloud, allow extra time to regain your composure after fits of laughter.)  You can visit history with Cynthia Rylant, Tom Brokaw, Kate DiCamilo, Patricia Polacco, and Gloria Houston.  There are wonderful adult novels and novelettes by Deborah Macomber, Dorothea Benton Frank, Liz Curtis Higgs, and many other popular authors who will add to your own Christmas spirit.  Start with my list of tried and true below.  But don’t stop there!  Every year you can make wonderful new discoveries at your library or local book store.  So don’t forget to look for some new titles and share them with me! 

As I said in my last post, if you’d like to stop by to have a cup of tea and some music, for a story time, or to borrow any of these (or lots of others), my house will be the one with the wreath outside and a fire and welcoming spirit inside.

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My Favorite Family Christmas Reads:

  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson 
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck 
  • Christmas from Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber by Tom Brokaw
  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
  • The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
  • Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco 
  • A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg
  • The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
  • Gifts of the Heart by Patricia Polacco 
  • Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  • Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
  • Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano
  • Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold
  • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg 
  • Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant
  • The True Gift: A Christmas Story by Patricia MacLachlan
  • A Visit From St. Nicholas (’Twas the Night Before Christmas) by Clement C. Moore   
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston

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