Friday, December 23, 2005
Santa has always brought me a book in my stocking. And now it wouldn't be Christmas without those brand new, unexplored words to turn to when all the hubbub dies down.
I used to have a home with a fireplace, and I liked nothing better than to snuggle up beside it with my new Christmas book while the rest of the family stretched out on the rug for an after-dinner nap.
Last Christmas, I received wonderfully thoughtful gifts, but still felt a little disappointed not to have received a book. Wondered what I was going to do after all the company left. But then, I spotted a package tucked under the Christmas tree I had set up on my patio (small apartment, put the tree outside where it can be enjoyed through the window).
So, spotting this unexpected gift, I checked it out, and found it was from "Santa". What else, but a book!
Good old Santa. He knows me well. (As does my daughter-in-law.)
Because I have always loved books-holding them, turning the pages, admiring the various type faces and colors of the covers, as well as reading them-it was natural for me to gift my kids with books at birthdays and Christmases, and then, in turn, my grandkids. Often, the gifts were not new books, but books I had collected over the years and kept because I especially liked them. Treasure Island, Robin Hood, Heidi and, later when the girls were older, Frenchman's Creek.
One summer I made a serious mistake. Two of my sons, junior high age at that time, seemed to have slid out of the reading habit and, hoping to reunite them with the world of books, I decided to pick out a book that revolved around a great interest of theirs, sports.
I'm not sports-minded at all, but I had heard the name of a basketball player bandied about the house, so, when I spied his autobiography on the library shelf, I scooped it up and checked it out, even though it was a pretty thick book that I wasn't sure the boys would wade entirely through.
I did have to coax them to crack the cover, but, once they did, they became so immersed in it that I had to practically tear them away from it to eat.
They finished the book in record time, and asked me if there were any more books like that at the library.
I was so pleased . . . until I cracked the book myself and found that Wilt Chamberlain's interests extended far beyond the basketball court. It was the first time I had heard of the mile-high club, and I blushed to think I had been the instrument of bringing it-and a whole lot more-to my sons' attention.
After that, I was more careful about suggesting reading material to them, but, I have to admit, I never again picked out a book that grabbed their interest as much as old Wilt had.