Twas the night before Christmas

Sunday, December 21, 2008

As the preparations for the holidays literally wrap up, I am starting to make plans for Christmas Eve.

Since Christmas will be spent with my in-laws, the traditions of caroling to candle-light until the early hours and the Christmas present parade will not be taking place (Trust me on this: not singing with my brothers-in-law is a very good thing.)

But I still want to have traditions that can be repeated every year with my children. Those include Christmas Eve stories. These are my favorite:

1. The Polar Express: Even though we don't do Santa in our house, this is my favorite Christmas story. The pictures are magical, the story line simple and heart felt. Even though neither my children nor me believed in Santa Claus, it almost makes me want to. The beauty of receiving confirmation of a childhood belief is so wonderful, it brings tears to my eyes every time is read the last few words. "...for those who truly believe."

2. The Night Before Christmas: Another Santa story, I know. But one that is as ubiquitous with Christmas as "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls." The verses and mental images are the creation of an icon. The familiarity of the words is the perfect family tradition.

3. St. Luke's telling of the birth of Christ: Although the "complete" story is spread out over several gospels and several chapter, the story creates a sense of wonder. (My family traditionally does a skit every Christmas eve of St. Luke, there are never enough children to cover all the parts, and something always goes wrong, making the skit to the "inexperienced" look very irreverent.

4. The Velveteen Rabbit: While not completely a Christmas story, the beauty and child-like innocence of the story make it a perfect reading for the magical time of Christmas Eve. Especially, if you are so lucky to have one with fantastic illustrations.

5. My Penguin Osbert: A more light-hearted reading, the tale of a boy and his request to Santa for a real penguin is silly, wishful, and whimsical. Perfect for getting a few giggles into a rather serious, thought-provoking line-up.

I would love to hear any suggestions anyone has for other readings that I can add to my Christmas Eve line-up.

And maybe these will give some of you ideas for your own magical night before Christmas