I read a column in my local paper several days ago that has stuck with me long after the paper hit the recycling bin–which is significant because in this crazy week of final Christmas preparation, I have the attention span of a caffeinated gnat When things get hectic, I try to remind myself to stop and take the time to be “in the moment” and remember what the holiday is truly about–family, tradition and the simple act of giving (and hopefully along the way providing the kids with special memories that will last longer than the latest electronic gadget). The column that I read resonated because it cut through the frantic, manic and frenzied whatever of that day, and reminded me that a “back to basics” approach to special holiday traditions might just be the best one.
Syndicated advice columnist Amy Dickinson has partnered with the Family Reading Partnership to promote a lovely tradition called “A Book on Every Bed”. She came up with the idea after reading an interview with historian David McCullough, in which he described how every Christmas morning during his childhood, he and his siblings awoke to find that Santa had left a wrapped book at the foot of their beds. What an “aha!” moment for me when I read that! The timeless gift of reading, given to children first and foremost in that quiet moment before the start of the big day, before the gifts under the tree, before the stockings–what could be simpler and more precious and personal?
I usually give my kids a book or two for Christmas, but they have a tendency to get a bit lost in the madness of the morning. They aren’t the “glamour gifts”, but they are the one gift that we give every single year (along with Christmas jammies!). The books reflect where each child is that year, and what their interests are at the time. I don’t expect that my kids will remember every book I ever gifted them, but I do want them to remember the gift of reading. When they look back at our Christmas’s together or when somebody asks what our family traditions are, I hope they remember books as part of what we have always done in this house. “A Book on Every Bed” stuck me as a wonderful and memorable way to celebrate the tradition of reading, and I’m jumping on the bandwagon this very year. On Christmas morning my kids will probably wake up and think Santa had too much egg nog and left the gifts in the wrong place, but I think when they see those books on their beds again next year, they will start to look forward to their very first gift of the day. I know I will. It’s never too late to start a new tradition, right?
Merry Christmas and Happy Reading!