Make Your Holidays a Little Less than Christmas Card Perfect this Year….with a Picture Book and a Lap.
Every year I look forward with anticipation… tinged with just a bit of dread… after Thanksgiving. The turkey hasn’t even cooled on the table, when the Christmas TV ads are bombarding everyone with everything you MUST have to make your holiday complete.
From the latest tech gadget to fashion must-haves every woman assuredly wants, to the newest hot toy every child craves under the tree, Madison Avenue runs overtime pre-holiday to create a crying need in people to enter the holiday buying public’s pocketbooks.
It starts now as a low hum and reaches a frenzied fever pitch in a matter of a week or two. It’s literally inescapable….unless you are totally unaware of the pounding pulse of this created Christmas spirit…. and pace yourself. Trust me, it’s possible and healthier, too!
I recall a quote from a 1940’s movie called, “Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House,” starring that stellar star, Cary Grant, (which movie, by the way, I highly recommend). The youngest daughter at the breakfast table presciently elucidates and solemnly intones her teacher’s dictum on the undercover intent of advertising. Miss Stellwagon, the teacher in question, opines that “Advertising makes people who can’t afford it, buy things they don’t need with money they haven’t got.” Never mind the tiny point made that her dad just happens to be in advertising. Hmmm.
And there’s more than a grain of truth there, perhaps. Do we really need more “stuff?” And, let me be perfectly candid here, I am as guilty as the next.
Just what are your children going to remember from Christmas and Hanukkah this year…and maybe for the rest of their lives from this “most wonderful time of the year?”
If my own experiences, and those of my children and people I’ve polled has any merit, it’s the traditions of the holidays and the people that connected us to them…past and present, that will continue to resonate long after both the tinsel and candles dim. By extension, time spent with the ones we care about and who care about us, is the one finite factor that we all share and can use as liberally, or sparingly, as we choose this holiday season,
It’s a bit daunting to realize as each holiday passes that there’s only so much of it that each one of us is given. Which brings us to choice. How will we spend the time allotted in this run up to the holidays? Will it be a series of mad dashes trying to cram it all in to make our families fit those Holiday Hallmark Series templates we see on TV?
Perfection is what they are selling, and families, being human, are far from that, thank goodness. In today’s world, they are simply harried, yet hopeful for something that is coming; something that can’t be found in a ribbon bedecked box.
What one thing would we select, if we could, from the finite days till Christmas morning? Perhaps we should ask our families and see which traditions are the most meaningful to them, and then set time aside for those – TOGETHER.
It may be cookie baking, the unwrapping of decorations handed down from generations past, picking out a tree on a crispy cold, nose-nipping day, or just maybe (ad coming here), a sit down and a snuggle with a picture book and a young reader eager for your time and attention.
And, if I could make a simple suggestion to get the Christmas picture book ball rolling, how about a new picture book just out called “North Pole Ninjas.”
Its pages are filled with a story that emphasizes to young readers the spirit and importance of giving rather than getting, plus a road map of how to do it, led by the Yoda-like ninja – the wise and wonderful sensei!
Great way to start a new tradition! More later on this sweetest of Christmas picture book treats!
Remember to take a breath… and spend some time with the little ones you love this season. Why not Introduce your young readers to some of the truly classic Christmas reads such as Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” Valentine Davies’ “Miracle on 34th Street,” a bit of a taste of Charles Dickens’s “A Carol Christmas“; his plum of a Christmas pudding, as well as some of the holiday titles from Little Golden books such as “Animals’ Christmas Eve“, “The Nutcracker,” its version of the Nativity called “The Christmas Story, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” plus the picture version of “The Charlie Brown Christmas.” And please don’t miss the picture book version of “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”; the actual story behind eight-year old Virginia O’Hanlon’s 1897 letter to the then newspaper, New York Sun. Then editor Francis P. Church’s famous and faith driven response to the world of childhood is hopeful reading in an ever more cynical world.
“The Night before Hanukkah” “The Story of Hanukkah“, “The Trees of the Dancing Goats,” “Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein“, “Hanukkah at Valley Forge” and “My First Hanukkah” are also great holiday picks for young readers.
Sometimes the best holiday gift you can ever give to a child is to sit down with them this season and read a book. Create a memory that lasts past both Christmas and Hanukkah, and into their futures. Read WITH and TO a child….often this season.