Something To Read

I liked the gift guidance given in the rhyme here.

Early on, I read that children respect books more if they are considered worthy of being a gift. Because I wanted books valued, books as gifts have been present (pun intended) in our house since the children were preschoolers.

Which books were gift-worthy? Hardbacks of books repeatedly checked out from the library: Ox Cart Man, The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge, and the Winnie-the-Pooh Treasury—the last two were expensive for causal buying.

Unusual books that represented a child’s interest and not available at the local library. I purchased Harry’s Helicopter by George Ancona after my kindergartner asked me to teach him to fly a helicopter.

“I don’t know how,” I said.

“Just read a book and tell me what to do, and I’ll do it,” he replied.

Oh, for him to have that faith in my abilities now!

My sons have carried on the tradition. They thoughtfully choose at least one book for my husband each Christmas.

Any favorite book gifts?

Christmas, Favorites

What Should I Give?*

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 (ESV)

For me, November used to be when I finished Christmas shopping, not when I started. Throughout the year, I scoured stores for ideas and vacation gift shops for memorable reminders of family times. I wrapped gifts as they were bought so they were ready to place as soon as the tree was decorated.

One child’s favorite wrapping paper.

As much as I felt organized, I wish I had known the ditty below. I might have made better choices.

Give your children

Something they want,

Something they need,

Something to wear, and

Something to read.

What do your children want? What do they need? What should they wear? What should they read?

*Another version of this blog appeared November 15, 2020.


Christmas Leftovers: Cards

Although Christmas food only lasts a day or so in my home, evergreen needles linger from one Christmas to the next. No matter how much I vacuum and sweep and vacuum again, those needles are a consistent reminder of a tree long discarded. (Thankfully, my friend Barb has the same problem, so we commiserate.)

Unlike needles, Christmas cards are welcome leftovers. Like letters, I save and reread them. Rereading cards is not only encouraging but also helpful. A 2020 Christmas card from my college roommate guided me to changing ophthalmologists in 2022.

I also repurpose our cards. Sometime in the 1990s, a friend saw Christmas card placemats at a craft show. She brought the idea to our church, and the children made them for family Christmas presents.

I embraced the idea so much that over twenty years later, I not only hoard my cards, but I also collect the fronts of friends’ discarded cards. I sort the oldest ones by theme or color and store them near my ornaments.

My oldest son and I made these theme placemats December 2017.

Are you wishing Christmas would linger? Or looking for a winter project?

Christmas, Memories

The Best Ornaments

When I place our Christmas ornaments on our window seat—where they lie until boxed—or when I box them if another removed the ornament from the tree, I will remember their stories. It doesn’t matter that I reminisced a few weeks earlier.

Why? Because I love the people they represent: the staff at our favorite library; a kind boss; my middle son’s favorite nursey teacher; a family we knew briefly in Texas; the wife of the pastor who officiated at our wedding; family members who have gone ahead of us; and many more thoughtful givers. Some of these people would be long forgotten or rarely remembered if not for their gifts.

Approximately 50 years ago, my grandmother gave me this first ornament, made from wool.

Although the ornaments I purchased bring happy memories of family times or adventures on my own as a young single, along the way, I learned the value of giving and receiving Christmas ornaments. I now give them as wedding or baby or graduation presents—when available or If I plan ahead.

Have you told the stories behind your ornaments? I should.

Christmas, Memories

Ornament Memories

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.

Larry Wilde, Comedian

One effect of aging I didn’t expect was becoming more selective about Christmas decorations.

Decades ago, when our tree was placed under a cathedral ceiling and could be decorated by reaching over the banister, I was easily seduced by the Christmas aisle. Off season, I scoured the Christmas sections of tourist shops and clearance aisles. Ornaments abounded.

Such purchases slowed when our tree height was reduced by a couple of feet. Today they are rare.

My beach ornament

Now, a tree half the size of former trees stands beside our front window. I never thought I would surrender, but my husband and I can’t handle transporting or decorating or undecorating a large tree.

Beginnings and endings are most memorable. (See here.) With tree decorating, that means placing ornaments and removing them. During that time, I always reflect on the friends and events my ornaments represent.

Memories bestow value. (See here.) And it’s those memories of friends and events which now make the time-consuming placement and removal and storage of my ornaments worthwhile.

Collecting or remembering?