It’s time to decorate for Christmas!
You bring out the ornaments—the ones your kids made when they were little, the ones you were given the year you bought your first house, the ones you made from something you saw on Pinterest.
You find the wreath and tartan ribbons and lights for the tree.
You dig out every candle you own and the candlesticks and that special plate for Santa’s cookies.
Of course, you’d never forget the special Christmas stockings, to be hung by the chimney with care.
But what about books? So many of you love books—do you have special books that come out just for the holiday season? Books to re-read, books that are beautiful, books that, for you, are the essence of what the season means?
In our usual minimalist planning for Christmas, I don’t think about this kind of detail. But there are three books that I will run across occasionally during the year that make me think, “Damn. I should put that out at Christmas—I love that book.”
And this year, I’m remembering!
The book I love the most is this one.
My sister and I grew up in that era when it seems that every kid took piano lessons.
I didn’t care much for the lessons and never learned to play the piano very well—it seems one was expected to practice between the weekly lessons!
But this little book of Christmas music moves me no end.
It sort of captures what Christmas looked like in the early 1960s. I swear, in that era, Santa and the reindeer were not as plump and cutesy and cartoon-ish as they have become.
It has my grandmother’s handwriting on the cover. I love seeing the unique handwriting of people I’ve lost from my life.
It has the songs that I loved best then and the ones that still hit me in the solar plexus now. They’re all here: Silent Night, Away in the Manger, The First Noel, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
And it has a few that make me smile now, even though I paid no attention to them then.
It also displays my incredible artistic talent and vision, as I used it as a coloring book. I liked coloring better than playing the piano. (That got me in trouble when I colored the libretto from my mother’s recording of Carmen . . . )
So, the music book will sit out this year, on a music stand because we don’t have a piano any longer. Seeing it will remind me of a simple time, loving family, the moving melodies of Christmas, and of my sweet, magical childhood.
And, I’ll ask it again. What about books? You love books—do you have special books that come out just for the holiday season? Books to re-read, books that are beautiful, books that, for you, are the essence of what the season means?