Reading-A Holiday Tradition

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the houses are festooned with twinkling lights and evergreen boughs.

Every family has activities and traditions that make holidays feel like holidays and my family is no different. We decorate our dining room and kitchen with silver and purple glass balls and white candles. We wind tiny lights round the bannister. Most years I rememberers to pot up an amaryllis or two early enough to force blooms for Christmas through New Year’s Day.

We buy a live tree and wait for all four kids to be home to decorate it, an event that has gotten trickier over the years with college exams and work schedules to factor in. Often times I will make a gingerbread house or two or three.

But, as much as I love all of those things, I think the decorating I love most of all is the gathering up of the Christmas books from around the house into one location where I still read some of them aloud each year to my kids. There is just something so cheering about being swept back to other times and even places through the pages of a treasured book, especially as my family grows and changes and moves into lives of their own.

I love remembering stretching out on a top bunk reading with one of my sons who particularly loved the Horrible Harry books by Suzy Kline. I would read one page and he would read the next. He was a wriggly little guy but somehow he managed to be so engrossed in the stories of a boy, not unlike himself, that he stopped moving for just a few peaceful moments.

One of my other sons loved to be read The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza by the wonderful author, David Shannon. He loved the artwork and the moral of the story even as a young child.

My youngest brought a bright glow of maternal pride to my heart when last year at this time. He asked if he could borrow a book from my shelves for a school paper. I handed him Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. He finished it in only a day and handed it back proclaiming it to be really enjoyable!

As for me, each Christmas Eve I read A Jolly Christmas at the Patterprints by Vera and Helene Nyce to my family before we head to bed for the night. I think they might be indulging me since they all know my mother read the same book to my sister and me on Christmas Eve when we were children. I feel truly blessed by their patience! I also make time, most years, to read A Redbird Christmas by Fanny Flagg. It strikes all the right notes for me this time of year!

I even find that I love to include writing about what my own fictional characters are up to for the holidays in my newsletter. I love to report on their gift-giving ideas and what all else they might be up to in preparing to celebrate the holidays that mean so much to each of them.

Readers, do you have any holiday books you love to read each year? Writers, have you ever set one of your books or stories at the holidays?

23 Thoughts

  1. I don’t reread too many books, but I do have a couple books set around major holidays, including Christmas. There’s nothing better than a good holiday story!

  2. I don’t have any holiday reading traditions. I read all the time, which isn’t a surprise, but there’s nothing specific that I read or re-read during the holiday season.

    I do give books for Christmas though. Most of the people I give something to are getting a book this year.

    By the way, my local library’s Mystery Book Club read Hercule Poirot’s Christmas for this month’s meeting.

      1. Jessie, the mystery book club does try to mix up the selection of books we pick. Cozie, modern day, thrillers, PIs, etc. So for this most recent month we thought of golden age mysteries and Christmas mysteries and thus Agatha Christie became the choice.

        And we’ve had Ingrid Thoft Skype in to the meeting when we read her book and the Divine Ms. Maxwell (aka Edith!) came to the meeting when we read her first Quaker Midwife Mystery!

        So it’s been a pretty fun time for the members of the group. Funny that I’ve enjoyed it since I have been so against book clubs in the past.

  3. Your post brought one of my favorite memories to mind. Every year at Christmas, my father would read The Night Before Christmas to me. It was a book with pop-up illustrations. In my youngest years I would huddle on his lap as he read. I can still feel the texture of his shirt under my cheek and feel the vibration of his chest as he spoke. Thank you for helping me recall a wonderful memory.

  4. We have a ritual reading of the Night Before Christmas (yes, I know that’s not the real title), but otherwise I don’t pull out other Christmas books – although I have some!

  5. We also read A Visit from Saint Nicholas on Christmas Eve and now my son reads it to my granddaughter which warms my heart. We have a collection of Christmas books which I put out and my children cherish.

  6. I love this, Jessie! Thank you for sharing these books and your story. I don’t have a book that I always read at Christmas. But I do love how Christmas is described in my favorite children’s books — the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I know, I know — I mention them all the time.

    1. I think it is charming that you have such a connection with those books! I think the books we loved as children tell us something essential about ourselves.

  7. That is the one Christmas tradition I don’t have – reading a particular Christmas book each year at Christmas.

    However, I do try to save at least one or two Christmas themed books to read in December each year.

  8. I love to read HERCULE POIROT’S CHRISTMAS. The newsletter bonus story I released last year took place at New Year’s. I think this one will take place at Christmas.

  9. That’s a very cool tradition. I’ve never heard of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. I’m going to have to check that out for sure! I love a good mystery. Great post!

  10. Chalk up another Night Before Christmas reading. I’ve told this story before, but every year my husband and I read it to our daughter wherever she may be. Usually, she is here with us, but we’ve read it over the phone, in a motel, and on a train. She is 49 years old and still loves cuddling up in bed as we put our own silly spin on the story, complete with sound effects. The physical book we use she received as a present when she was about 5.

    And we all love Hercule Poirot’s Christmas!

  11. I love this post! What wonderful traditions. And I love that you toss off making gingerbread houses like it’s easy. Your house seems like the place to be!

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