The launch of the Kindle got me thinking about all the things an e-reader can never be. You can't inscribe it to a loved one or press flowers between it's pages. It can never be an object, loved and cherished and passed from person to person, with any history. Your children cannot draw upon the pages and fill it with precious memories. Illustrations look terrible on it, especially art, which needs a grand scale. For these reasons and many more, help me celebrate the real thing: dusty old books!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

'Twas the Night before Christmas...

'Tis the season to enjoy traditions. Often reading an old favourite can be a quiet personal tradition. I have my own festive favourites that I'll be re-reading over the holidays. But here's a lovely Christmas tradition from Gerry Mayfield that makes me realise that I should be making more of my own favourite books and rituals...and sharing them with family and friends.

"As a child I have memories of being read 'The Night Before Christmas' on Christmas Eve before hanging our stockings on the mantelpiece and shouting up the chimney to Santa, our heart's desires. I often wonder if my parents got any surprises on that day!

However I digress. When our eldest was young I managed to acquire a board book of the poem which I then read to her each year. Not just on Christmas Eve though on any night on the run up to Christmas. We became word perfect but still reading the words and looking at the pictures together invoked a magic not to be found in just the recital. Our eldest went to university as our second child was born and each year I would follow the same tradition with our youngest. Again we are both about word perfect and reading is not restricted to Christmas Eve only.

This year we asked our eldest when she was coming over on Christmas Eve and we were told that she would be over for 'The Night Before Christmas'. Each year she still comes 'for the reading' and we have a real tradition in the making. Lizzie, although 12 now, will still have the reading and Cate, 18 years her senior, will be there for it too.

Whose this book is is a guess, but I like to think it's mine and will have the privilege of reading it to any grandchildren we do have with, hopefully, our 2 daughters watching and listening.

The copy isn't particularly old nor dusty at the moment as it has already been out this year, but without it the tradition would die immediately."

Thank you Gerry for sharing this. I've now found our version - not very old or dusty either. Gerry's book is obviously of a certain vintage that reminds me of my childhood (I had lots of "Dean" books I remember). I must also find our video of Tom and Jerry's Night before Christmas, which I just love. What else can I add, except...

"Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!"



  1. My personal Christmas favourite is The Little Match Girl, which I cannot read without blubbing my heart out! I know the sad bit's coming, I know what will happen, and still I sob! Ridiculous, but tradition is tratition.

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  2. Oh that's such a heartbreakingly sad story, and so cruel. It really opened my eyes to poverty and homelessness though. Important to be thought provoking. I bet it would be a struggle to get it published today though!

    Another favourite is the Snow Queen, which always scared me a little...

    Happy New Year!

  3. My favourite Christmas read is A Christmas Carol. A cliche perhaps, but I can't get enough of it. Most years I manage to find myself a vintage copy, althougfh this year I was thwarted vrom getting to my favourite second hand bookshop in Otley. Still, I managed to see a wonderful ballet version by Opera North, a dramatisation at thevsjt in Scarborough and several film versions on dvd.