If your family is anything like mine, life is busy. Add to that busyness a holiday complete with its own section at Target (one that requires shopping, and decorating, and a massive amount of planning in order come off without a hitch), and you have a glimpse of what December looks like for us.
As much as I would like to freeze time and just enjoy all the season has to offer, there are still clothes to wash, sports to be played, money to be made. Often, the aforementioned decorating, shopping, and planning overshadow the holiday itself.
While much of the time there is nothing we can do to reduce our obligations, we can all find a window of time each day to remember what we are celebrating. For some, it is a jolly season of giving. For others, a time to remember a baby born in Bethlehem long ago. For many, it is both.
Whatever Christmas means to you, this snippet of time each day can be filled with a tradition so simple, everyone can find a way to make it work: advent reading.
While my kids enjoy counting down with the cardboard calendars whose every window holds a piece of Christmas chocolate, they also enjoy a good story. Since, like many families, we have made it a point to read aloud our favorite stories each year, why not combine the two traditions and start a new one.
In fact, why not pre-select some favorite stories, wrap the books, and let the children unwrap a new story each night before bed. Add in a steaming cup of cocoa, and a roaring fire, and you have a ready-made, Norman Rockwell-worthy moment.
What I like best about this idea is it is so customizable. You can choose books that focus on whatever aspect of Christmas resonates with your family. You can select 25 books, and read one each night, cut it in half and do the 12 days of Christmas, or just pick your very favorites for the week of Christmas itself. As your family grows, you can leave behind picture books in favor of longer tales told over several nights.
As my children get older, I find myself missing all the things we enjoyed as a younger family, and I struggle with leaving my toddler days behind. The beauty of this season however, is that it becomes perfectly acceptable to embrace those things that 11 months out of the year, we are deemed “too old for.”
So, I can still trot out “The Grinch,” and even my teenager won’t complain about listening. After all, who doesn’t love a good Christmas story?
Below, you will find a list of some tried and true titles to help you start your own Christmas reading tradition. I hope you will find time to cuddle up with the ones you love to enjoy this simple holiday pleasure.
“Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree” by Robert Barry
“One Starry Night” by Lauren Thompson
“A Creature Was Stirring” by Clement Clarke Moore and Carter Goodrich
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson
“Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert” by Marla Frazee
“Flight of the Reindeer: The True Story of Santa Claus and His Christmas Mission” by Robert Sullivan
And of course, the book my family and countless others have been reading for generations,
“The Night Before Christmas” or “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore
So moms and pops, stoke that fire, steam that cocoa, and enjoy a few old classics and some new favorites too – all while making memories that will last a lot longer than whatever Santa delivers.