By Nada Jerkovic
It’s a magical time of year. A time of year when we all think about showing the important people in our lives how grateful we are for them. However, around the middle of December, it’s easy to start feeling bogged down. Stress, lack of time, Christmas shopping, decisions, and freezing weather can all stand in the way of finding the vaunted holiday spirit.
When I start feeling like the Grinch, I usually make time to watch some of my favourite video clips or movies – some of which may be familiar to you.
I also go back to some of my favourite holiday short stories:
- David Sedaris’ “ Santa Land” Diaries is about the time that the author, in his 30s and out of work, had to suffer the indignities of taking a job as an elf at the Macy’s Santaland in New York City. It never fails to make me laugh.
- Truman Capote’s story “A Christmas Memory” in which the narrator, Buddy, looks back on a particularly beautiful Christmas she spent with his much older cousin is another one of my favourites. Buddy and his cousin have a Christmas ritual in which they bake and then give away fruitcakes to people they barely know. Click here to read the story.
Comparing the original version of the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time” to more recent ones makes me think about how much the world has changed over the thirty-seven odd years since the song was first released in 1984. But despite all this change, the constants of kindness, empathy and helping others are still ultimately what makes our lives meaningful.
When lengthy pre-holiday task lists are calling your name, it is easy to forget that the holidays are a time to spend time with friends and family, to reflect, and slow down before another busy year begins. Nichole Nordman’s beautiful song helps me keep this in mind.
By now my inner Grinch experiences a complete change of heart and, just like the Grinch in the story, I am ready to admit, “ I’ve changed my mind! Christmas is a wonderful holiday after all!”
I believe that everyone deserves a book for Christmas! Here are a few books I think important people in my life will enjoy.
- All my friends and family members who are parents would enjoy The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert, a wonderful holiday book with gorgeous photos and a sweet story of giving and helping.
- My friend and her 7-year-old son who announces that “today is the worst day ever” several times a day would laugh their heads off at The Worst Book in the Whole Entire World! by Joey Acker.
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires – is the story about a girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. “She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right. This funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. Good for friends with kids!
- The B on Your Thumb: 60 Poems to Boost Reading and Spelling by Colette Hiller – is a collection of rhymes to help children learn reading and spelling tricks. One of the reviews of the book says that it may even be of use to adults. A friend of mine has a daughter who is finding the process of learning to read in grade 1 challenging. She is noticing that her daughter is ready to do about anything to avoid reading at home. This would be a fun book for the two of them.
- 101 Things to Do Instead of Playing on Your Phone by Ilka Heinemann – this is an adult book and a perfect ‘hint’ book for people (myself included) who spend too much time on their phone or in front of the screen. I may decide to give this book to myself as a Christmas gift and New Year’s resolution.
- What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad – is a profoundly moving adult novel that looks at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child. Most of my friends would enjoy it. Should one of my New Year’s resolutions be to start a book club?
- Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life by John Grey – on the surface, this book is a playful exploration of what cats might have to teach humans about change, resiliency, and nimbleness, but there is much more to it. (I would love to discuss this book with other people, I should really start a book club or join one…)
One of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, says, “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!”
Wishing you all of the Hope, Happiness, Wonder, Joy, and Reading that the Season can bring!