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Friday, December 16, 2016

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

As many of you know, when I was growing up, there were always books for Christmas. My parents taught me the value of reading very early in my life. From my first memories, I recall being read to by one or the other of them. Books were always around the house, and Dad was a prolific reader.

When I entered first grade, no pre-k or kindergarten then, I quickly became an avid reader for myself. By fourth grade I had read every book in our elementary school library, mostly biographies of American heroes. (Yes, it was a fairly small library.) Thank goodness that after fourth grade the local library was on the bus route and even within walking distance when necessary.

But it was at Christmas that I received the seeds of a family tradition and added to my list of books read. I discovered early on that my Mother listened closely to my ramblings about books I wanted to read. She would then rush out and buy them for Christmas. They would quickly be hidden away, or so my folks thought.

I discovered the hiding places and would sneak the books out and read them. After putting them back I would casually say something to the fact that "Oh, Joanne's mother bought her such and such, and such and such, etc, and she let me read them." A little later I would mention other books I wanted to read, the list was as endless as it is now, and Mom would dispose of the read books and put more in their place. Some Christmases this pattern could be repeated 2,3 or even 4 times.

I was well into high school when it stopped. I never learned if she had a 'deal' with the local bookstore, or if those books went under someone else's tree through the church or work gift collections. I always felt that I had outsmarted my parents.

Years later, my Mother casually let it slip that she and Dad knew exactly what I was doing, and they helped perpetuate the myth. Perhaps that would explain why they started buying and hiding the books immediately after Thanksgiving.

They also helped start a family tradition, for everyone in my family knows they will have a book or books under the Christmas tree. When our daughter married, we were told that it wasn't necessary to buy our son-in-law a book because, well, you know. He received a book and has for the past 22 Christmases, and some birthdays! No complaints. The same story with our daughter-in-law. "Not that much of a reader," she said. Now, 13 years later, she feels free to give me lists of titles she wants to read. Our five grandchildren know to look for at least one book under the tree. They also feel free to offer pre-Christmas suggestions and I always think, "but what if you read them before the big day?"

This year some of the requests from the young folks in my family include:

In previous years, I offered gift giving suggestions with small blurbs. This year I'll shorten the blurb and offer more suggestions. So, here are some books that would make great Christmas and Hanukkah gifts. Most of these are not from the best seller list, but great reads just the same. In no particular order.

Happy Holidays to all.


Music, Art,  Love, and War
Wonderful Books

                                            Two book about the Paris apartment closed up for
                                            decades. Opened within the last few years, it was a
                                            treasure trove. Two lovely books about this apartment
                                           and the courtesan who owned it. Seen through the eyes                   
                                           of a modern woman.

Other recommendations in not particular order:


                                             Of course, don't forget mine and Jim's!

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