Advent -- just in time!

After a long November of November-ness, I am so glad to tear off that page on my refrigerator calendar!  Thank you so much to anyone who thought a kind thought about me and my family as you wandered by this dormant blog during the past couple of months.  I can feel the cyber-love!

Today let's talk about books!

My Advent Calendar for Book Lovers keeps me thinking and browsing through stacks of storybooks all year long.  I have an affinity for older stories, mostly because they are the books I loved as a little girl, or were the books my kids loved when they were little themselves.  But the annual tradition I have created for myself here allows me to immerse myself in the children's section of Barnes & Noble, "doing research."  You will just have to imagine me, sitting in a wee little wooden chair, pouring over gorgeous storybooks with my knees tucked under my chin.


Let's see what we come up with this year!

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Well, so the girl in charge has been home for Thanksgiving (she flies back to Atlanta today -- sniff!) and while she has been here, she has been tucking into her old friends, the Little House books.  Since I spent my entire childhood carrying around one or another of these treasured companion books, when I see my girl doing the same thing -- well, it brings a little tear of joy to the eye.

I have said before that my favorite of the Little House Christmas stories is the tale of Mr. Edwards' encounter with Santa Claus, on a muddy street in Independence, Missouri (this story is a chapter in Little House on the Prairie).  I also do love the story of Laura's beloved doll Charlotte, found in Little House in the Big Woods.  But I was thinking about the fourth book in the series, On the Banks of Plum Creek, and it occurred to me that this book is just chock full of Christmas.

Wilder tells us that one early Christmas, the family exchanges no gifts, but Pa buys horses that they will need for plowing come spring.  And of course the book ends with Pa's arrival at home on Christmas, after being trapped in a snow bank during a four-day blizzard -- and eating their Christmas candy so he can survive.

But for most Little House lovers, the fabulous Christmas story in this book is the chapter called "Surprise."  Who can forget the church Christmas party, at which Laura sees her first actual Christmas tree?

Everyone stood up to sing and Laura stood up, but she could not sing. Not a sound would come out of her throat. In the whole world, there couldn't be a store so wonderful to look at as that tree. After the singing, Mr. Tower and Mr. Beadle began taking things off it, and reading out names. Mrs. Tower and Mrs. Beadle brought those things down past the benches, and gave them to the person whose name was on them. Everything on that tree was a Christmas present for somebody!
Mrs. Tower stood smiling, holding out the little fur cape and muff.  "For me?" Laura said. "For me?" Then everything else vanished while with both arms she hugged the soft furs to her. She hugged them tighter and tighter, trying to believe they were really hers, that silky-soft little brown cape and the muff.
"What do you say, Laura?" Ma asked, but the Reverend Alden said, "There is no need. The way her eyes are shining is enough."

Gets me every time.