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Christmas Classics II

A few years ago, I lifted another family's Christmas tradition, adopted it as our own, then gave it a twist. It's such a simple idea, but a fitting one for children whose parents met in a bookstore. 

The day after Thanksgiving, Kent pulls the attic stairs from the ceiling, climbs into the dark and returns with a basket of Christmas books. Every night  - and all day long, really - we read about magical trolls who steal Christmas dinner or an exuberant monkey who decorates the hospital Christmas tree with X-rays and bed pans. 

We read Christmas classics and ones that ought to be

Every year, we fill the basket with a new book for each of the children, inscribed with one sentence that speaks to the past year. It might not be their favorite gift to receive but it's my favorite to give. No question.

Years from now, Esme may recall her first camera and odds are Jospehine will still have the steamer trunk Santa once filled with dress-up clothes. But Tobias won't remember the Skuut Santa brought him and Desmond will have long forgotten the Buzz Lightyear toy. 

Most of us will forget the big presents and sadly, I think we'll forget many of the moments that, added together, make up our days and months and years and propel us to the day we're looking at four new adults sitting around our Christmas tree. 

On that day, though, we'll have the books, the memories of laughing over trolls and monkeys, pigs and Cindy-Lou Who and the snapshots of lives lived. And so, here's what I'll be wrapping for the tribe. 

"Of Thee I Sing: A letter to my daughters," by Barack Obama. To Esme - This is the year you toured the White House gardens.

"The King's Stilts," by Dr. Seuss. To Desmond - This is the year you learned to zip your coat.

"Olivia Saves the Circus," by Ian Falconer. To Josephine - This is the year you jumped on the water trampoline at family camp.

"The Dinosaurs Night Before Christmas," by Anne Muecke. To Tobias - This is the year you loved a plastic dinosaur named Rex.

Reader Comments (6)

I love that Dana! What a great tradition! Being a kindergarten teacher I am a little partial to books as presents. I gave each of my students one for Christmas with a note inscribed in it. My boys are giving my 10 month old neice a recordable version of The Night Before Christmas that they read. I hope it will be the start of wonderful memories of reading books for her. Have a wonderful Christmas with your beautiful family!

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Patterson

this is so beautiful. you are an inspiration to all mommies! merry christmas!

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy

I love this idea! We get the kids' books, but I never thought to inscribe them. Thanks!

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLois

What a wonderful idea... to inscribe the books with their personal milestones for memories. It's such a delight to have discovered your blog and be able to read the thoughts and original ideas of such a special person... you!

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

I love this!! Books rule all in our house so I can get behind this...

The King's Stilts is a giant favorite in our house - our favorite Seuss book.

My daughter (the other Esme!) and I discovered a famous cartoonist/author I'd never heard of, James Stevenson. I think we currently have all of his books out from the library (not really, but we have 7 or 8 - he's very prolific). Turns out he's a New Yorker cartoonist also and his cartoons are brilliant! Esme especially likes the books about the Worst Person in the World. She wakes up, gathers all the "Worst" books around her and reads them one after the other in bed.

Merry booky Christmas to all of you!

December 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary B

I've been meaning to tell you how much I loved this post, Dana. I have books my father gave me from childhood that he always neatly inscribed and I treasure them. But I adore the idea of a little description of who they were that Christmas and why this book was specially given to them. You have some lucky kids.

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina

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