By Caryl Clem:
Songs vibrate cheer, tales of the Christmas Star
Wise Men traveling, Santa and his famous reindeer
Frosty the Snowman or a relative may come over
Adorned with scarves and bright red holly
Boisterous lawn valets waving to neighbors
Ready to help unload the world wide sleigh
Parading evergreens in holiday gowns
Bearing jeweled necklaces and lit crowns
Sweep into rooms hiding mounds of gifts
Beneath their huge green skirts
Dark chocolate mounds, cookies, a confectioners haven
Spill from clean socks into waiting pockets
No cure has been found to stop holiday treat craving
Family lore and traditions at fireplace fire
Hidden presents, those who co-conspire
Elaborate their adventures with laughter and humor
A fitting end to a busy year
Spend time with your loved ones dear
For me in elementary school in the 1960’s, it was Brenda Brave helps Grandmother, a beautifully illustrated story I bought at one of my first book fairs. It still has the price tag, $1.00 and the code for how book fairs demonstrated their books. The story was about a little girl named Brenda Brave who lived with her Grandmother in a small cottage. Grandmother raised Brenda when she was a baby. Grandmother makes candy to sell in town but one day Grandmother falls and hurts her leg. Brenda takes over the cleaning, cooking and Christmas even selling candy. And for Christmas, Brenda gets the beautiful porcelain doll that she always wanted from Grandmother.
For many of us then, it was the most elaborate story of The Night Before Christmas that we had in our holiday collection as well as Frosty the Snowman that possibly had a record and A Charlie Brown Christmas. We may have received our books as gifts or a traditional purchase at the downtown Marshall Fields book floor. Krochs and Brentanos may have been another choice.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas was another favorite as well as Rudolph. For many of my Jewish friends, to celebrate Hanukkah, I remember learning the Dreidel Song and game more so that reading Jewish stories. The Littlest Angel and The Christmas Story came in many colors and styles that shred the birth of Jesus.
As the years passed especially in the 1980’s, it was more artful creations of The Night before Christmas as well as Madelines Christmas and The Polar Express that came in a box with a jingle bell. Different versions of the Christmas Carol were published to compliment many levels of reading as well as celebrating Kwanzaa.
In 2015, there was a parakeet named Dreidel that taught the story of Hanukkah and collections of books that includes how to catch Santa and how to catch an elf. Santa arrives in Illinois on Christmas Eve is always fun to read to see if your home is on his list this year.
Today, The Night before Christmas is still the ultimate favorite with awesome illustrations to read the night before Christmas and depending on religion, The Christmas Story from Amazon or maybe Target or Walmart’s book section. Versions of the classic, A Christmas Carol ,is required reading in many schools followed by a field trip to see the play. Polar Express is complimented by the movie with Tom Hanks and How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a must read and much watched movie with Jim Carey. Maya Angelou’s Amazing Peace is a fully illustrated children’s book that is mainly poetry. The story of a treasure thought to be lost in a batch of tamales is also a great Christmas Eve read called Too Many Tamales.