It's the time of year when everyone puts together lists. Best TV Shows, Worst Movies, Top-Selling Books, etc.
While I might still do that, I wanted to put together a list of my favorite Christmas books. Then I tried to think of books with memorable Christmases. None of the usual books came to mind. I didn't read How The Grinch Stole Christmas, I only remember the television show. A Visit From Saint Nicholas aka The Night Before Christmas was always recited in my home, not read--so much so that at 5 I was the one who recited it in front of the fireplace.
There are two scenes from books that I always think of this time of year. They seemed to define for me what Christmas is all about.
-Little House on the Prairie. I remember being amazed and humbled when Mr. Cameron, my third grade teacher, read to us about the little girls who were thrilled to get one penny, warm gloves and a piece of candy each for Christmas. Our Christmases growing up weren't extravagant by any means, but there always seemed to be lots of gifts for everyone. I wondered if I could ever be that thankful for so little.
-Little Women. I read this for the first time in fifth grade. I had seen the movie with June Allison and Peter Lawford several times by then, but the book is what stuck. Their father is away serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Money is tight. Marmee and the older girls work to keep food on the table. Christmas morning, they awake to a feast for breakfast, but Marmee isn't there. She's gone to help the Hummel family, a family in even more desperate circumstances than the Marshes. So the girls pack up their breakfast and take it to share with the Hummels. I could understand the resistance of Jo and Amy-I wouldn't want to give up my special breakfast either-but loved that they finally agreed.
I like to remember at this time of year that Christmas isn't about how much you get or how much you spend--regardless of what all the adds say--but how grateful, kind and generous of spirit you are.