It will come as a surprise to nobody who has ever met me, that this is just a sampling of my collection of Christmas books. And the scariest part is that before we moved, I got rid of most of the collection. These are just the ones I couldn't bear to part with.
There are of course multiple copies of some of the best known and most universally loved ones like" A Christmas Carol", including a wonderful 1946 version and "The Night Before Christmas" which I read so faithfully to my own children every year on Christmas Eve that to this day, I can still recite it from memory. Which is also how I absolutely know the names of all of the reindeer.
Then there are the probably slightly less well known but equally wonderful stories like O'Henry's, "The Gift of the Magi" and Truman Capote's, "One Christmas". Both of which are the most beautiful copies I've ever seen and come in their own protective little cases.
I have two different Christmas Books by Kate Douglas Wiggins, (perhaps better known to some people as the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm). : "Colonel Carter's Christmas" from 1903 is illustrated with lovely tissue covered colour plates and "The Bird's Christmas Carol" which is even older, 1891, has just a few black & white rough sketches. But the stories are the reason I purchased them. The artwork is just a bonus.
And those aren't even my oldest Christmas Books. Another wonderful favourite of mine, "Frank Leslie's Chrsitmas Book" is from 1890 has only a few colour plates. The rest are very detailed and beautiful black & white illustrations and in truth, it only has a few actual Christmas stories in it. But it's a wonderful book nonetheless and quirky with advertisements for things such as: Pear's Soap, Barbour's Flax Threads and Scott's Emulsions.
I have one Christmas book that has no words at all. Just wonderful illustrations that tell the entire story. It's John Goodall's "An Edwardian Christmas". Published in 1978, it's a much newer book than some of the others. It was another fabulous choice to "read" with the boys when they were small. I would have them "read" it to me. They would tell the story that they saw from the pictures and it was at least a little bit different with each "reading' and with each boy. It's one of my favourites.
But then so is "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't" by Ogen Nash. Published in 1957, it's from my childhood. And my signed (by both author and illustrator) copy of "A Cup of Christmas Tea". "The Very Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Beverly Cleary from 1972 is the one makes me laugh out loud every single time and then get a little bit teary at the end. When I worked at Hospice, years ago now, I once gave a copy of that one to everyone in my office. That's how much I love that particular book.
I seem to have quite a few Christmas books from the 1920 through 1940's. Not sure why. But I do seem drawn to that time period. Old black & white movies, the men wearing snappy hats, the ladies wearing gloves. (sigh) I seem to gravitate to that time period without realizing it. I even chose the colour of my kitchen backsplash without knowing until afterwards that it was considered a "retro" colour. Funny thing eh? But the stack of Christmas books of that era is an especially tall one.
I even have a small stack of wonderfully sappy, happy-ending, contemporary Christmas romances by authors like, Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber and Johanna Lindsey. Oh it's not fine literature, but charming lightweight wonderful stories, that are perfect for a chilly rainy (or snowy) day.
So many Christmas books! Some of funny, some are sweet, a few slightly weird, at least one that is sad. Some of definitely children's stories some more for adults. A couple that are downright quirky and a few from other countries and I love each and every one of them.
Every year, I swear that I am going to re-read every single one and ever year I don't. I couldn't possibly. The most favoured get re-read first, of course. The I try to choose the ones I don't read quite as often. I recently re-read an especially good one, "Christmas Days" by Joseph Lincoln from 1938. It's a charming story of a family last name of Day who lived on Cape Cod in the 1800's. A family of sea-farer's. But it's uniquely written because it's in three parts. Each part tells the story of that family on Christmas Day in the years 1850, 1860 and 1870. Just the story of one family on one day of three different years. So the reader learns about what life was like back then, what this family was like and how Christmas was celebrated in that part of the world then.
So I have less than two weeks left and far more books than two weeks worth. I don't' think I'm going to get them all read once again this year. So I suppose not achieving the goal once again has in itself become part of the tradition.
I suppose I should be clear on something, this is not a family tradition, this is a Sam tradition. This one is all me. It is something I do every year during the Christmas season that is all about me. I suppose it's my Christmas gift to myself. I lose myself in the magic in Christmas stories one more time.
Do you have any favourite Christmas books??
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.