Christmastime traditions are abundant in every family home. We have gift-giving traditions for our kids that include a nutcracker, an ornament, and a Christmas book to open on Christmas Eve. I'm always taken with a lovingly-illustrated storybook, and our holiday books are extra special. I would love to start expanding this tradition for other holidays down the road, like Easter & Thanksgiving, but at Christmastime every act of intention is a meaningful way to build memories and strengthen the family bond. Last year we tried expanding this tradition and invited family & friends over on Christmas Eve for book reading and hot cocoa, and while we may put a hold on this sort of gathering this year (due to busy schedules and feelings of being stretched too thin) we know it's never too late too institute traditions in our family home. We can start now, we can start today!
Yesterday Honey Bear & I went to Target to start our shopping for the kids, and picked up quite a bit on our list, including our Christmas book. Earlier that morning the girls and I read a few of our favorites before our Saturday morning breakfast. Reading to the girls these old books (Love's favorite is the Grinch!) reminded me to slow down and enjoy the passing moments, something I admit I have been terrible about lately. I have been shamelessly using screens and social media to waylay the feelings of anxiety, and it has made me forget about building my home with the kind of foundational traditions I held on to so dearly as a child. The truth is, that you can not only waylay stress and anxiety with this sort of home-growing and tradition-building at home, you can heal it too.
A few of our favorites from years gone by:
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
written & illustrated by Robert Barry
A classic completely off my radar until my sister-in-law brought it over to our Christmas Eve party last year, this story is about a single Christmas tree spreading joy to many families. I'm a sucker for anything vintage, and while our copy is a recent print, the 1960s art still makes my heart pitterpatter.
When Santa was a Baby
by Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Genenieve Godbout
A newer story about Santa's childhood and how he came to fulfill his destiny as a Christmas icon with the support of his proud parents. Baby Santa is SO cute!
The Night Before Christmas
by Clement C Moore
illustrated by Hollie Hobbie
A utterly beloved & timeless poem accompanied by the dreamiest illustrations. Truly an heirloom copy to be treasured by our family for decades.
by Rubin Pingk
A comical tale about a little snowball-throwing ninja who wants to avoid the naughty list by chasing Santa out of town.
The Christmas Bunny
by William Lipkind & Nicholas Mordvinoff
I picked up this book while pregnant with my firstborn, Wilde, at a thrift store, knowing of the tradition I wanted to start. Our copy is from 1953, and the illustrations are absolutely everything I love about mid century art. This is a sweet tale of a boy making friends with some furry woodland creatures, only to discover one of the friends ending up under his Christmas tree! Being a 70-year old book, our copy is a bit tattered, but it's been a well-loved book to bring out every year.
I've added these and a few of our other books, and well as a few others on my wish list to an Amazon idea board, here. I would love to hear your favorites and any we should add to our family traditions!