A few years ago, I lifted another family's Christmas tradition, adopted it as our own, then gave it a twist. It's such a simple idea, but a fitting one for children whose parents met in a bookstore.
The day after Thanksgiving, Kent pulls the attic stairs from the ceiling, climbs into the dark and returns with a basket of Christmas books. Every night - and all day long, really - we read about magical trolls who steal Christmas dinner or anexuberant monkey who decorates the hospital Christmas tree with X-rays and bed pans.
Every year, we fill the basket with a new book for each of the children, inscribed with one sentence that speaks to the past year. It might not be their favorite gift to receive but it's my favorite to give. No question.
Years from now, Esme may recall her first camera and odds are Jospehine will still have the steamer trunk Santa once filled with dress-up clothes. But Tobias won't remember the Skuut Santa brought him and Desmond will have long forgotten the Buzz Lightyear toy.
Most of us will forget the big presents and sadly, I think we'll forget many of the moments that, added together, make up our days and months and years and propel us to the day we're looking at four new adults sitting around our Christmas tree.
On that day, though, we'll have the books, the memories of laughing over trolls and monkeys, pigs and Cindy-Lou Who and the snapshots of lives lived. And so, here's what I'll be wrapping for the tribe.
"Of Thee I Sing: A letter to my daughters," by Barack Obama. To Esme - This is the year you toured the White House gardens.
"The King's Stilts," by Dr. Seuss. To Desmond - This is the year you learned to zip your coat.
"Olivia Saves the Circus," by Ian Falconer. To Josephine - This is the year you jumped on the water trampoline at family camp.
"The Dinosaurs Night Before Christmas," by Anne Muecke. To Tobias - This is the year you loved a plastic dinosaur named Rex.
Dana blogs at Feast After Famine.
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