Category Archives: Curl up and Cuddle

Queries and Conundrums: The Advent Book Calendar

wrapped-books

Sorry about the static lately but ‘tis the season!  And in honor of this frantic, wonderful holiday season, I want to share with you a very creative idea.  I was on Facebook; ah, that great time waster, and I saw a post from a former student of mine.  She wrapped up 24 holiday children’s books and each evening in December, she and her son will open one and read it together.  What an absolutely fantastic idea!  I love children’s books, especially Christmas children’s books. I research a bit and went on Pinterest, another fantastic time-waster, and discovered that one can get REALLY creative with the Advent Book Calendar idea!!

To me, the holiday season should be viewed through the innocent and excited eyes of children.  Every year, my husband seeks out a unique and unknown Christmas book for me, while I find treasured classics for my children.  When I was little, my mom always had a basket of Christmas children’s books under the tree.  I remember sitting on the floor in the glow of the fire, twinkling Christmas lights, and flashy tinsel, enjoying holiday favorites year after year.

I continued this tradition with my own family. When the kids were younger, we would read a book a night before bed.  As they got older and became proficient readers, everyone would pick a favorite and we would all take turns reading.  Five books a night, every night until Christmas . . . yes, I have that many Christmas children’s books.  Even now, I get so tickled . . . don’t tell them, they would be embarrassed . . . when my teenagers, much past the age of picture books, lie on the floor under the tree re-reading their favorites.  After the holiday is over, the books are packed up in a bin and stored away until next Christmas.  I think I get more excited unpacking the holiday books each year than I do unpacking ornaments!

The Advent Book Calendar takes that thought one step further.  Added to the excitement and anticipation of reading a holiday book is unwrapping one and not knowing which one will be found!  What a lovely tradition!!

As I thought about this, I pondered how I might use this with myself and my teenagers.  Giggling a bit manically, I thought about wrapping up books on my to-be-read pile.  I would have to read one a day to keep up with the calendar.  Nothing else would get done in my house but my to-be-read pile might shrink a bit!  Sigh . . . I guess I will stick with the children’s books.

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Curl up and Cuddle: The Relatives Came

the-relatives-came

Sometimes life gets busy, crazy, and chaotic.  Normal people seek out friends to help them through a crisis; book people seek out old favorite books to help provide a bit of normalcy or escape.  For me, old favorites often are children’s books.  They hearken back to a time when I didn’t have teenagers that needed to be driven everywhere, when chicken nuggets were the perfect meal, and days could be spent curled up with the children reading books.  Yea, I know, I am idolizing the past, but sometimes everyone needs a bit of fantasy escape.  So, grab a pillow, a blanket,  and your favorite children book, snuggle with your children . . . or your cat . . . and curl up and cuddle.

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
The book starts with “It was the summer of the year when the relatives came” and continues to tell the story of the relatives who drive up from Virginia, with their cooler full of crackers, bologna sandwiches, and soda pop.  As they drive through the mountains and over the dusty roads, their minds are on their grapes back home and on us, waiting for them.  When they arrive, there is hugging and kissing and visiting and crying and catching up.  The relatives stayed for weeks and weeks and helped with the garden and broken things around the house and other things that need to be done.  There is sadness when the relatives leave but even through we are missing them, there are dreams of next summer.

 

This book always chokes me up a bit but I have to smile.  The simple drawings and beautiful prose vividly recreate that feeling when special people return to our lives.  My favorite part is the description as to how you have to pass through at least four different hugs to get from the kitchen to the front room.  The simple story-line highlights all the wonderful and strange feelings when there are guests in the house; the sound of different snoring, the smell of larger amounts of food being served (you know that smell), the feel of the air when those dear to you are together.

I am sure everyone has a memory of a time when relatives came.  My greatest is traveling to Wisconsin when I was child to visit my cousins for Thanksgiving.  We all stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house; there were mounds of food, multi-day Monopoly Games, sleeping bags on the floor, and hours of embarrassing stories.  Although we got together but a few times a year, it always picked up with no awkwardness – even through the teenage years – as if we hadn’t been apart.  What makes this memory even more special is that it is now repeated with my children, my sister’s children, and my cousins’ children.

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, this is a great book to pick up and share with your family and friends.  A timeless classic of what makes our loved ones special, quirky, annoying, and perfect.  The Relatives are Coming again – there is more laughter, noise, and joy.