The Christmas Book Box


Books are a big deal around here. It’s no secret that I wish all the boys in my life loved reading as much as I do, but perhaps they wish I loved fart jokes as much as they do. I try to encourage reading on the sly because anytime I stomp my feet and flail my hands in effort to get the boys onside with my desires, I am often met with sullen, uninterested faces or, more likely, a look that says, “she’s crazy!”.

I took the idea of a book box from my teaching days. I made a project out of it and engaged the boys from the beginning. At the grocery store, I casually mentioned that we needed a box. I didn’t give them any further details so when they were sorting through the heaps of discarded boxes that line the front of the store, their curiosity was piqued.

“Uh-uh. Too small! ” I’d say or “Uh-uh. Too big!”

When they landed on the perfect box, we brought it in the house along with the groceries, but I said no more about the box and deferred all questions pertaining to it saying that I wasn’t quite ready to share its use yet.


A few days later, my middle one was lazing around the house, bored. Read: he was whining and I was quickly becoming irritated. I suggested that he decorate “The Box”. I gave him clues that guided his colour selection and sticker choices. Once the box was completely covered, I asked him to return it to its place on the floor in the dining room.

When the boys were at school, I pulled all of the Christmas and holiday books from our shelves and placed them in the box and then moved the box to a prominent location in our family room. I said nothing about the box, but when the boys came home from school they quickly thumbed through the books and come bedtime took a few upstairs with them only to return them first thing in the morning.


I didn’t say too much about the book box but it’s now a part of our Christmas tradition, our Christmas narrative if you will. Each year the boys are eager to become reacquainted with some of their favourite stories and discover what new additions have been made.



Little Women


            “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. 

            “It’s so dreadful to be poor!” sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.

            “I don’t think it’s fair for some girls to have lots of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all,” added little Amy, an injured sniff.

            “We’ve got Father and Mother and each other,” said Beth contentedly, from her corner.

It is in the first chapter of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, when we are introduced to the four March sisters but it is on the second page we learn that these girls are anything but ordinary growing up in the midst of the American Civil War.

Sixteen-year-old Meg is fiercely dedicated to her family and over the years grows to emulate her feminist mother.  Fifteen-year-old Jo, proves her enviable mane of hair is easier to tame that she.  Quiet, shy and musically gifted Beth is the centre of the sisters’ world and Amy, artistically gifted, is the youngest of the March sisters who is destined to live a life of privilege from an early age.

That first Christmas that we spend with the March sisters we are privy to their innocent quarrels and we are permitted to eavesdrop as they gossip about the war efforts and the mysterious neighbour boy.

After performing their Christmas play for Marmee, the girls collapse into a fit of giggles and it is Beth who perfectly sums up why after more than a hundred years these March girls are still so endearing:

. . . Beth who nestled up to her mother and said, a little later, “How I wish Father were here.  I’m afraid he isn’t having such a merry Christmas as we are.”

A Visit From Mrs. Claus

One of my favourite holiday traditions that we started when our boys were born was having Mrs. Claus make a visit to the house.  Why should Santa get all of the glory?

Mrs. Claus slips into the house in the wee hours of the morning on December 24 and leaves a fresh set of pyjamas along with a favourite Christmas book at the breakfast table for each of the boys.

By bedtime our bellies are full from the shortbread cookies we’ve made for Santa and the boys anticipate his arrival while reading their new Christmas stories.

Christmas tales, twinkly lights and three excited children snuggled in their pjs.  What could be better than that?