Unlike me, hubby was an avid reader when we got married. It was one good example of how much our upbringing effected us. Books were a big thing in his house, not so much in mine. Yet, his love of books rubbed off on me. Eventually, I began to read more and developed an appreciation and love of the written word in ways I never had before. As a result, books became a big thing in our home. Not at first, but over time.
My girls have an extensive library of books available to them and we began reading to them soon after bringing them home. Our traditional bedtime routine has always included at least one book at bedtime. Even when getting to bed later than usual, they still want/need/expect to have a book read to them. It’s part of the routine, the tradition of bedtime.
We have many established Holiday traditions, but I’m always happy to try out something new that I think might make a good tradition in our home. A few years ago, I was introduced to a tradition over at The Cloud Chronicles. It seemed quite fitting for our book loving family, so last year I decided to give it a try. Each evening, as the girls were getting ready for bed, I would pull out two new Christmas/Holiday books for them to read. For a couple weeks, leading up to Christmas, we would read these books, with “The Night Before Christmas” being read on Christmas Eve. The excitement and joy on their faces as we read their new books each evening was so much fun and I decided to make it even more fun and exciting this year. I expanded the collection and wrapped each book, then placed them under the tree. I went a little overboard in buying books for this year (assuming it’s really possible to buy too many books), as there were enough for each of the girls to open one from the end of November to New Years Day. I was excited about our new tradition and when the girls discovered all the books under the tree, they were excited as well. We could hardly wait to get started.
The first evening they got ready for bed, then cheerfully ran to the Christmas tree, plopped down on the floor and carefully selected their wrapped treasures. One at a time they pulled off the wrapping paper to see what books we would be reading. Daddy read one book and mommy read the other. Then the joy melted away as one of the girls decided she wasn’t happy with opening only one book. I began to watch our new Holiday tradition evaporate into thin air as we dealt with an unhappy child who was going to bed that night having opened only one book. However, we would try again the next night and hope for a happier experience.
And the next night was happier. Once again the girls bounded to the Christmas tree, plopped down on the floor and began sifting through the wrapped books in search of the perfect package. Each of them opening their books, daddy reading one and mommy reading the other then reading the books opened the night before once again. Four books read, in the quiet of our beautifully decorated living room, enjoying time together as a family and creating wonderful memories. Unfortunately, night two didn’t go much better. The same child was again unhappy that she couldn’t open another book. The wonder, anticipation and excitement of all those books under the tree was just a bit too much for her to handle. So another night we put an unhappy child to bed after reading four books and leaving all the others under the tree. Our wonderful memory turning somewhat sour.
We tried again the following night and the following night and the following night. Daddy and mommy getting more and more frustrated that our family reading time was ending with so much drama.
Then it happened. The girls picked out their books and opened them. We read their selections and they each chose an already opened book to read before going to bed for the night. No tears, no complaining, just enjoyable family reading time. And the child who had not been happy the previous nights asked, “Are you proud of me? I’m not whining and crying about opening more books.”
Yes, very proud and so happy!!!
Maybe our new Christmas tradition will work out after all. A mixture of books from last year, some new selections this year, all wrapped and under the tree. Just the four of us spending time together, reading, and creating memories.
It’s true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers. But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you’ll find you’ve created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul. – Caroline Kennedy