Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever wondered why “My True Love” from the Twelve Days of Christmas song never sent a book? Out of all those creative (or in my opinion strange) gifts, not once is a book mentioned. You would think at least once in the twelve days of Christmas it would have crossed his mind to give a book, or two, or twelve. What would make someone think a partridge sitting in a pear tree would be better than a book? And really, four calling birds? The racket would be worse than the twelve drummers drumming, especially with all the lords leaping around the house. And there’s no way those laying geese could offer the enjoyment of a really good book. Anyway, geese fly south for the winter and books don’t.
Books are a wonderful gift. They are easy to wrap, relatively inexpensive, and customizable to a recipient’s interest. Books are timeless treasures and appropriate for any age. There are books for each season of the year and for every season of life. Good books keep on giving, even with repeated readings. And last but not least, books are great for re-gifting.
Books are not gadgets, but you can read them on a gadget. Books transcend technology and yet history has shown technology has made books available to everyone. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis famously said, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of book is the best of all.” There are a gazillion gadgets, movies, and trinkets you can give for Christmas this year, but none will surpass the value of a book.
Books are to be read, and reading has never been more essential. Frederick Douglas, a former slave during the time of the Civil War said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” The world is a messy place these days, and without books we won’t understand what made the mess or how to clean it up. Learning to read is important, but only if one reads; and to read, you have to have good books around. We must be reading practitioners, reading often and well. And by reading well, I mean reading to understand, not to be understood. We should read some new books and old books that have made the world a better place.
So here is my Christmas plea: give books for Christmas. I hope every child in our valley gets at least one good book for Christmas. In fact, I hope every person in the valley gets a book for Christmas. If you need ideas, I can think of no better book-consultants that the dedicated folks at the Kenny Lake Public Library (https://www.facebook.com/KennyLakeLibrary/)and the Copper Valley Community Library in Glennallen (http://www.coppervalleylibrary.org). The employees and volunteers at our local libraries provide better personal customer service than you’ll find at any bookstore chain. Stop by or give them a call and you quickly realize our public libraries rival any of those stuffy big-city libraries down the road.
The CRSD also maintains libraries at each of our schools. Mrs. Heinbaugh and Mrs. Doty can guide students to books that are the perfect fit. If you need ideas for Christmas gifts, give them a call, send them an email, or stop by the school. You can also download an app called “MyON” on your tablet that gives your children dozens of high-interest options for reading, all for free! You can watch a short video at www.crsd.us to learn more about this terrific reading app for young readers.
C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors, wrote, “The great thing is to be always reading but not to get bored – treat it not like work, more as a vice! Your book bill ought to be your biggest extravagance.” Buy lots of books this Christmas…for everyone on your list. Take your family down to the library and enjoy checking out good books together. Have a “book trading” party with friends. Everybody brings a book to share. Make a book basket and leave it on someone’s door step with a nice note, and maybe include some tea or chocolate. Go caroling and leave a book after you sing to add some extra cheer to someone’s holiday.
Skip the turtle doves and French hens by using your creativity to give a book! I’m positive it will bring a smile to you and them. And if you have time, send me an email and let me know what books you gave and what books you get this Christmas. I might want to add them to my list for next year!
As you can tell, “My True Love” missed a wonderful opportunity. A book would have gone perfectly with all the warm milk those maids were providing. Don’t make the same mistake he did: Give a book to somebody this Christmas.
I wish all of you a book-filled Merry Christmas