Friday, December 14, 2007

"A Family Christmas"

Despite having a lengthy list of books that I'm already reading, and have yet to read, I couldn't help purchasing "A Family Christmas" by Caroline Kennedy. Both my son and I enjoy her book, "A Family of Poems," so I thought there was no way I could go wrong with this one. I was right.

I was drawn in to the book by her introduction:

"Christmas is a holiday of hope. As children, we wait all year for the chance to wish for whatever we want most. Frequently, these wishes take the form of toys, but often we ask for more profound gifts, such as a reunited family or a world at peace. Children possess a spiritual curiosity that is sometimes underestimated or overlooked in the hustle and bustle. Yet children ponder the mysteries of life and of faith that Christmas makes real. Later on, as parents, we reconnect with our own childhood sense of hope, reaffirm our faith, and recognize the power of love and family."

She continues by touching on some of the traditions her family had while growing up, and then writes a brief history of various popular Christmas traditions.

The contents of the book is also something I was looking for. I already had several picture book versions of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," as well as various books containing Christmas poetry and lyrics to popular songs. This book gathers all those favorites of mine (as well as stories and poems I've never heard of before) in to one anthology. It also includes scripture passages relevant to the Christmas story.

In addition to having everything in one book, the prose, poetry, lyrics and scripture passages she has selected are short enough so each can be read and enjoyed in one sitting. I've already read "Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus" (an excerpt from Little House on the Prairie) as a bedtime story to my son. And yes, we plan to read "A Visit from St. Nicholas" to him on Christmas Eve. Kennedy also includes more serious prose for older children and adults, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "A Christmas Sermon of Peace," that I look forward to reading and reflecting upon this season.

I'll conclude with another excerpt from Kennedy's introduction:

"...the powerful emotions of the holidays are not always easy to manage. Yet the liturgy and literature teaches us that Christmas encompasses the miraculous and the tragic, the profound and the ridiculous, and always represents the connection to something larger than ourselves. If we are open to the gifts of understanding, hope, and faith in others and in God, the spirit of Christmas can help make real the way we want to live our lives."