Friday, December 23, 2011

What do You Read on Christmas Eve?

One of my favorite traditions is our Christmas Eve family read-a-thon. We snuggle under a blanket (this year we have a fireplace!), eat cookies (those not designated for Santa), and read a stack of classics.

The playlist includes: Brett Helquist’s illustrated version of A Christmas Carol, Martin Waddell’s Room for a Little One and a sampling from the many lovely illustrated versions of The Night Before Christmas, The Nutcracker and the Christmas story itself. Most of these books we’ve been reading since Thanksgiving. But we always save the “Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus,” chapter from Little House on the Prairie for Christmas Eve. That’s the one where the creek is so flooded that Santa can’t get his team (mules, not flying reindeer) across, but a good-hearted neighbor just happened to see Santa while picking up supplies in Independence, MO, and then fords the swollen creek to bring Christmas to the Ingalls’ lonely log cabin. Mary and Laura are beside-themselves with excitement over each receiving a tin cup and a candy cane in their stocking (teary sniff).

At our house, these books and their kin appear in December, just as we put away the books about fall leaves, pilgrims and pumpkins. We also have seasonal books for Halloween, Easter, spring, summer and July 4th. The non-holiday-themed, snowy stories come out in January as the holiday ones tuck in. Each book feels like a lost friend when it comes out of storage and averages about eight readings during its special time of year. My children are four years apart in age, so I’d estimate each book will stay on the playlist at least 6 years. That’s at least 48 readings per book. It’s a beautiful life being a beautiful picture book!

What do you read on Christmas Eve?


  1. Such a wonderful post, Cheryl! Y'all will enjoy the fireplace this year! I'll be rereading Maria Tatar's collection of Hans Christian Anderson tales. They're magical and seem even more so on Christmas Eve!

  2. Our kids are grown, Cheryl, so thank you for the happy reminder of years past. What a wonderful tradition. Polar Express and the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke come to mind.

  3. We used to read the Night Before Christmas, several excerpts from the Bible when our kids were young. Then as they grew, we added pieces--Wendell Berry's poem "The Birth." T.S. Eliot's "The Gift of the Magi." And one year I even read A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. When I was done I noticed several in the room were dozing.
    But I still love the phrase "fruit cake weather."