Well, it's Christmas Eve! School is out, snow is falling--at least in some parts of the country--and Santa will be making his rounds tonight, hopefully bringing books to the children in your life. To celebrate, you might read some of your favorite holiday stories or poems, such as "A Visit from St. Nicholas," also known as "The Night Before Christmas."
Here are some holiday favorites from NCBLA board members M.T. Anderson, Patricia MacLachlan, and Natalie Babbitt:
M.T. Anderson writes,
I have to admit that I always really loved that perennial Christmas favorite, Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Mostly because it extended my actual favorite holiday, Halloween, an extra two months.Patricia MacLachlan replied,
I also have very fond memories from when I was about eleven of our church putting on several of the medieval Mystery Plays from the York and Chester Cycles -- little plays about the Nativity, the shepherds, the Slaughter of the Innocents, and so on. As a fan of the Middle Ages, I loved it. There was the whole congregation -- secretaries, banker tellers, dry cleaners, car salesmen -- dressed up in medieval costumes, saying these ancient words, transformed. This was how I met one of my best friends: She was Herod's page boy. There was singing. There was dancing. Musicians played tunes from the Middle Ages on shawms, harps, and sackbutts. It was delightful. Imagine the simple joy, as an eleven year old kid, of being allowed to say "sackbutt" really loud in church.
Sackbutt is a great word. As a cellist, playing in many of such holiday amateur performances I have enjoyed this whole scene.
I'm still thinking about Christmas books. I am rather ashamed to admit that I've never been a great fan of Christmas (omigod..did I just say that??). I won't go into why this is...I think it has to do with expectations, real or unreal, etc. Strangely enough, my editor talked me into writing a Christmas story, so I am doing so; focusing on the big white cow who lives in the meadow by my house. Maybe writing this story will cure me. I hope so. I think I am standing all alone out there. No, what I love is winter; that soft, hushed, sparkling time when something hangs in the balance; snowflakes fall so silently, the stars are so bright. And what I DO also love, along with you, are the townspeople and wonderful rascal children, dressed in sheets and towels, saying great words. And the boys choirs with the purest of voices.
Is there hope for me? I, too, will pick Dickens, though it ain't pretty.
To which Natalie Babbitt said,
Bah! Humbug. There's only one truly great Christmas story, and what's more. You all know it. It's Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Everything else is primarily tinkle. My sister explained to me when she was ten and I was eight that there wasn't any Santa Claus, and for me that was the end of tinkle.Happy holidays from the NCBLA--have a beautiful and relaxing Christmas Day!