Since my blog is primarily about books and reading, I thought I’d write my contribution to the Virtual Advent Tour about a reading tradition that took place in my family that only in recent years I have properly appreciated (and even missed).
After coming home from my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve, my brothers and I would get into our pajamas, help mom get Santa’s snack ready (he always had a rum & Coke at our house — all of the milk at the other houses thankfully prevented him from getting caught with a DUI), and then we would sit down with dad for him to read us ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Every year he’d bring out the same tattered copy of the book and read the story of Santa’s visit to a house with “stockings hung by the chimney with care”.
When I was really young, I don’t remember it all that much, but as a teenager – yes, Dad was still reading it to us then – it was both an embarassment (“Gee Dad, do we have to do this EVERY year?”) and something special to be shared with the family (though I wouldn’t admit that to anyone). To this day, I can recite passages of that story from memory.
The tradition paused only when my brothers and I moved out of the house and weren’t “at home” on Christmas Eve. Then my brother had his first child, and when I mentioned that I thought about getting the baby Twas the Night Before Christmas for her first Christmas, my dad said Absolutely Not – he gave my brother the copy that he used to read to us all those Christmas Eves. To this day that copy is still brought out every Christmas Eve and my brother reads it to his three kids.
It is held together with duct tape, but it is still a fixture on Christmas Eve.
Thanks to recordable storybooks, my dad has been able to “read” Twas the Night Before Christmas to all six of his grandchildren, both those nearby and those farther away. I always believe that reading that story meant more to him than it ever did to any of us. Though I have to say, every time I hear that story now, I get a little wistful and wish I could always be home on Christmas Eve to hear my dad read me a story.