There are so many wonderful stories to share with your family during this bright season! I invite all of my readers to go to their local library (or their local independent bookstore) and discover some delicious Christmas tales, including the ones that I mention here.
One of my favorite Christmas tales is Shirley Climo’s Cobweb Christmas. Originally I found a version of this story in an early Primer Reading book, dating back to around 1911. The tale focuses on how the spiders always get shoo-ed out of the house when Christmas cleaning begins. Yet, the poor little creatures feel left out until one Christmas Eve Santa invites them in to see the Christmas Tree. Well, you can just imagine what happens when hundreds of spiders crawl all over the little tree!
Another long-standing favorite is Chris Van Allsburg’s Polar Express. Originally written in First Person, I love taking the liberty of telling my own First Person version, which begins in Falmouth, MA, where I lived as a little kid. Here in Tuolumne County, CA, we have a wonderful train excursion where lots of families can go for a ride of Santa’s Starlight Express at Railtown 1897. That makes telling THIS story locally even more fun!
A new discovery for me is The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson. This sweet story explains how Santa must listen carefully, and pay close attention as the Christmas Magic draws near. Without that spark, the reindeer cannot fly! Go find the book because once again John Muth has doubled the magic with his elegant, quiet (and funny) paintings.
And this year I’ve enjoyed telling the Italian legend of La Befana, a sweet story that incorporates the Christian account of the Magi following the Star of Bethlehem. In the legend of La Befana, they stop to rest in her home on a cold Winter’s night. Then the Three Kings invite her to join them, but being old and cold, she says, “No.” Later she sets off, trying to catch up with the Three Kings. It is this dear old woman, who traditionally delivers Christmas gifts to children. In Italy Babbo Natale, or Santa Claus, has only been around since WWII. La Befana? For many generations!
And finally, you’ll have to FIND ME to catch my last story: Milk & Cookies. This is BZ’s own original Christmas tale of how the elves ended up helping Santa and Mrs. Claus at the North Pole. I have collected some charming rejection letters from publishers on this one. But whenever I tell it, I also collect LOTS of smiles, nods and giggles.
There are hundreds of charming stories and books to share during this time of year. So, start a tradition in your home where you share that certain Christmas Tale every year! When Polar Express was first published in 1985, my younger daughter was just in Kindergarten. We began a tradition of reading that story on every Christmas Eve, a tradition that I hope she carries on with her own children (I know that I read it to my grands whenever I am with them for a Florida Christmas).
Perhaps your family reads Clement C. Moore’s classic poem A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the Night Before…), or maybe you’ve discovered another treasure. I do hope that you will help your kids settle in on that brightest of nights with a good story that YOU TELL or YOU READ to them. Turn off the Idiot Box, and enjoy the beauty of this sweet season together while you all wait for Santa to slip down your chimney or sneak in your door.On that night, nothing matters more.
I’m B.Z. Smith…I tell stories…Here’s one!