It's not about the book . . . .

So I went to the monthly gathering of my book group last night, and as usual I had the swellest time. I know that many of you participate in a "Book Club" or a "Book Discussion" or some sort of regular gathering where you meet to discuss a book that all of you have read. You may even assign discussion leaders, or decide on a theme for the year, or have some sort of guidelines for participation and membership.

People, this ain't that kind of book group.

My book group started as a collection of women who began meeting in the summer of 1994. I joined in early 1995, invited by my friend Carol (who had never actually been to a gathering of this book group herself, but still felt comfortable dragging me along with her). I'm pretty sure the book to be discussed that first night was Little Women, and I'm also pretty sure that we laughed, drank wine, ate the most delicious food, and maybe talked the teensiest little bit about Little Women.

This might seem to imply that the women in the group are not serious readers, when nothing could be further from the truth. But "book group rules" don't appeal to any of us, and if our conversation veers toward a fabulous promotion, or an impending birth, or worries about health, or the capers of our cats . . . then that seems to be just fine. The size of our gathering ebbs and flows from month to month ( we all have busy lives), and some women have remained faithful for sixteen years while others have joined us more recently. Ultimately, these women are the truest sort of friends, who know me at my deepest core. When it comes right down to it, the book group motto for all of us is, "it's not about the book."


Behind the Advent calendar door today is Josefina's Surprise. My teenage girl urchins still adore their American Girl dolls, and I'm all for it. My feeling is there are worse fads to adopt than one that ties a well-made doll to books about some facet of America's history. Beer bongs spring to mind.

Josefina's story resonates with our family because she is devoutly Catholic. Josefina's Surprise tells of the Las Posadas tradition that her village celebrates every year on each of the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve -- La Noche Buena. This little book does a nice job describing the traditional Las Posadas procession, and evokes a real sense of the sacred as the procession winds up at the village church to be welcomed by their priest to the Feast of the Nativity on Christmas Eve.