Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The favorite books you got as gifts

This adorable tabletop book tree was featured on Pinterest.  The original post/ohoto is here
Yesterday I blogged about giving/getting books for Christmas.  I shared what some of my favorite gifted books were as a child, and asked my readers and Facebook friends to share some of their favorite book gifts.

Here are some replies:

Dorene Hostler A very dear friend bought me a beautiful, leather-bound bible many years ago. It's so marked up & worn now...but, it is my favorite book I've ever received as a gift.

Katrina Johns as a child: The Secret Garden (from my Grandma), as an adult: Jesus Calling (from some sweet ladies at my church)

Vicki Walton My Bible I received my Senior year, a book of The Holocaust and those rescued, "Rebecca" a mystery, and as a child, definitely "Charlotte's Web."

Vickie Fanning A Bible...The Giving Tree....Where the Red Fern Grows.... A collection of Robert Frost Poems....A collection of Poe

Teresa Lester Bernadette and the Lady. Angels Unaware. Joni. The courage of Carol. All given to me as a teen girl

Cindy Long When I was about 12, my mom bought me Harriet The Spy, and I remember reading it straight through and enjoying every page.

Karrilee Aggett said...
Oh how I love books... stacks and stacks of books! My favorite book as a child was A Wrinkle in Time... but I couldn't possibly pick a favorite as an adult - there are too many!

Anastasia Rose said...
Books are absolutely my favorite gifts! One of the more recent books I've received (maybe two or three years ago) was called Believing in Narnia, and it was a devotional type book dealing with the real-life themes in the Chronicles of Narnia. No matter how many times I read those books, they still end up showing me something new!

Jo said...
I can never choose favourites. I love far too many! One of the top ones would have to be the complete works of Jane Austen. In my family, books are given at Easter more than Christmas. A tradition that started when I was a child and has stuck. My daughter always receives a book at Christmas too.

Susan Baker said...
Growing up, there were always books for Christmas. Most of them are long forgotten. But I still have my battered and well-worn paperback versions of The Hobbit and (most of) The Chronicles of Narnia.

They were my first "grown up" books and started me on a life long love. I'm happily continuing the tradition with my own sons.

Bethany Boring said...
I have an answer to this!! My favorite book I received as a complete surprise this year. I was wanting a way to bring my young boys around the real meaning of Christmas, but in a way like they had never heard it before. A good friend sent me Ann V new book, "The Greatest Gift." It has been jusr that and more. I blogged about this today...too funny!

Rachel S. said...
Boxed set of Anne of Green Gables books - I still have them, and my girls are reading them now

Thanks everyone, for sharing your favorites with me! Now let's buy a book for someone for Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Give a Book for Christmas!

Read this post for more about this book

I can't remember a single Christmas in my life when I didn't either give or receive at least one book.

Books make wonderful gifts...and they don't have to be expensive. They don't have to be 50 dollar coffee table books (in fact, even those gorgeous coffee table books often go on sale, deeply discounted).

I'm trying to build up my personal library of classics. Borders...now defunct...used to have a beautiful line of classics that was very affordable.  Barnes and Noble probably does too.

Children's books can be very reasonable, and most small children love to be read to. Slip a paperback novel, preferably Christian fiction, into your teen-ager's stocking. An athlete's bio for your sports-crazy son, or a how-to-be-a-better-golfer book for hubby.  For your teen or young adult, one series I can highly recommend is Lisa Bergren's River of Time series.

Many of my favorite, and most enduring, Christmas gifts ever have been books. When my parents were missionaries to Beirut, Lebanon, when I was a child, I really got into British writers. I can remember getting Noel Streatfield's White Boots , which launched me into a Noel Streatfield marathon. Another time I got an anthology of stories by Enid Blyton-- who probably most American children have never heard of, but whose writings I adored.

Actually, I could never list all the favorite book gifts I've received, because many of my favorite all-time gifts, throughout my life, have been books.

What was your favorite book you ever received as a gift?

Years ago I "twittered"' this question, and Katy McKenna Raymond replied: "My mother purchased this book when I was 11: 'Don't Call Me Katy Rose.' My name is Katy Rose! I still have it..."

No doubt about it, those childhood books, often received as Christmas or birthday presents, evoke fond memories to this day.

What was your favorite book you ever received as a gift--whether as a child or more recently? Please answer in my comments section...I'll blog about your replies!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's Still a Wonderful Life...why this is my favorite movie EVER

The other night one of my sisters-in-law admitted that she has never seen "It's A Wonderful Life." I was aghast.

This movie is an American institution. This movie is a Christmas tradition. This movie is not just my favorite Christmas movie, but actually my favorite movie EVER.

What do I love about this movie? Well, in no particular order:

--Jimmy Stewart

OK, Jimmy Stewart is just adorable. This quote in his 1997 New York Time obit sums up his appeal:

The lanky actor with unruly hair and an ungainly stride had a boyish grin and an engaging manner. The Stewart way of speaking -- laconic, with a hesitant, nasal drawl -- is instantly recognizable by virtually every American. His early screen image, like his personal life, epitomized a Middle American ideal in a confusing, sophisticated world.

And, he's cute. And I love the integrity and basic goodness of his character. He's just...adorable.

--Donna Reed

As the longsuffering Mary, who loves Stewart's George Bailey from afar and then graciously endures the trials of being his wife, Donna Reed is wonderful. Early on, it's obvious she wants George and she's going to get him...but she does it in such a subtle way, he doesn't even know he's caught until the awesome moment they kiss while sharing a telephone receiver.

You don't get the idea Mary is a doormat. She's just a woman who is admirably full of the grace that is so essential in being a spouse.

There's a luminous glow and wholesome sweetness about Donna Reed as Mary. She's lovely.

--The special effects. No, I'm just kidding!!!

OK, the special effects are really quite awful. That star thing where the angels are apparently talking to each other? So incredibly primitive. But hey, this is 1946! Roll with it. They're so bad they're strangely sweet.

And I don't care...it still touches my heart to hear the prayers of all of George's friends.

--The message.

The idea of exploring how the world would be a different place if one single person hadn't been born is one definitely worth pondering, and it definitely fits in with a Christian worldview.

As this blogger wrote:

"Perhaps the biggest lesson we learn from this film is that we all have an impact on those around us. As Clarence the guardian angel said, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

We all live a life of significance and it’s important we remember that even the little things we do have a tremendous impact on others."

What kind of an impact am I making on the lives of those around me? How would their lives be different if I wasn't around?

--The payoff.

Like most really good movies, "It's A Wonderful Life" has a wonderful emotional pay-off.

The moment after George realizes he wants to live, and the snow starts falling and Zuzu's petals are in his pocket...well, it doesn't get much better than that when it comes to cinematic pay-offs.

You want to run through the streets with George, screaming and hollering for joy.

Life may be tough. Life is often tragic and sad and inexplicable. But as Clarence says, "Remember no man is a failure who has friends."

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

A beautiful Christmas book

Note: I'm dipping into the archives this month for some posts of Christmas past! 

A few years ago, I posted on my book blog about a beautiful Christmas book that I had found for 5 dollars at a local dollar store.  Since then, I've gotten some more information about this book and its availability.  

I also have a little addendum to make that happened during a recent Thanksgiving.

Here you go:

As a little girl, I loved Christmas anthology books. Nothing made me happier on a December day than to snuggle up with a big, beautifully-illustrated book full of Christmas stories, songs and poems.

That's why I was so delighted to find this Christmas Treasury at a local dollar store for 5 dollars. I liked it so much, I bought three of them...one for me to read to my grandsons, one for two of my little nieces, and one for two little friends of the family.

(Click on any photo to view larger)

Tom Newsom beautifully illustrates "The Night Before Christmas."

I love the fact that there are several songs in the book, complete with music.

The book includes several Victorian-style illustrations and poems as well.

Among the prettiest illustrations in the book are by an illustrator named Pat Thompson, about whom I was able to find frustratingly little online. Making it even more confusing is that there is also a children's illusrator named Pat Thomson...without the P. I'd love to know more about this artist.

Another lovely Pat Thompson illustration in the book's rendition of "The Nutcracker."

Another Pat Thompson illustration in "The Velveteen Rabbit."

Another by Pat Thompson

A Pat Thompson illustration in the Christmas Story

How about you? Do you have a favorite Christmas book? Let me know about it in my comments section!

UPDATE: I posted this a little a few years ago, and one person was able to give me a little more info about artist Pat Thompson. "Sparrow1" commented:

"Pat Thompson is an artist in Franklin , TN with Southgate Studios. I was trying to remember which book she illustrated to pass the info along to a friend when I came upon your blog. In years past I have taken pastel classes from her and consider her a both a very fine artist and a lovely friend."

Very cool!

UPDATE 2: You can order this book on Amazon! It's about 18 dollars, but this gorgeous book is well worth it. Here's the link.


When I originally bought this book, I envisioned keeping it here and reading it to my grandchildren when they visited during the holidays.

Well, my grandsons, almost 6 year old Payton and 3 year old Josiah, were excited about me reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to them from this book when they were here a couple of years ago for Thanksgiving.

They live in Texas and I live in Illinois, so I treasure the times we get to spend together.

I read the poem and then we thumbed through the pages and I showed them some of the beautiful illustrations.  Both of them love books and love to be read to.  Payton was excited to see the illustrated Christmas story, as he's been practicing to be in a Christmas program at church.

When I mentioned that I had bought the book specifically for them, but that I would keep it at my house, Payton asked, "Why can't we take it home?"

Why indeed? He promised that he would have his parents read to him from the book during the holidays, and I know my daughter-in-law will make sure that it's kept nice.

I wrote in the front of the book, giving it to Payton and Josiah with all my love. I hope they enjoy it for years to come.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Twelve Christmas questions!

photo credit

I found this in the archives of this blog, but thought it would be a fun thing to resurrect.  Answer the questions yourself on your own blog, in my comments section, or on Facebook!

1. Christmas is _Jesus______. [fill in the blank with ONE WORD]

2. In memories, what was the best part of your Christmases past?--Opening presents!

3. Was Santa ever good to you? [describe how and what]--Many times. I remember, when I was about eight, getting a baby doll that I had long coveted at a local department store. When my parents were missionaries to Lebanon, a favorite great aunt visited and bought beautiful bicycles for my sister and me. 

My favorite presents of all were books, though--even when I was a little girl, I was an avid bookworm. I never remember being disappointed at Christmas.

photo credit
photo credit

4. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both?--My husband's family is Swedish in origin, and the tradition of celebrating on Christmas Eve has persisted. When our kids were little, we always came home and opened presents after the Swanson family gathering on Christmas Eve. We still open presents then.

5. Is there something you make each and every year? [craft or recipe]--I always make Ritz crackers with peanut butter, dipped in almond bark. Now that I've found out I'm diabetic, I won't be indulging as heavily in these delectable treats, but I'll still make them.

photo credit

6. What is your favorite five[5] Christmas songs/hymns?--
(In no particular order):

--Hark the Herald Angels Sing
--For Unto Us A Child is Born, from Handel's Messiah
--Welcome to Our World
--Sleigh Ride
--Joy to the World

7. Is there a new tradition for Christmas since your childhood days?--I don't remember getting Christmas stockings as a child, but I've always given them to my kids. Although they got to open their presents on Christmas Eve, they awoke to find their stockings full on Christmas morning.

8. Describe one of your Christmas trips. [whether it's across town or across country]--We've gone home to Texas a few times for Christmas, starting with when I was expecting my first child, Christmas 1979. A few of my favorite Christmases were in Wyoming with my sister Bev and her family. The snow, the mountains and evergreens were postcard perfect for the season, and Bev and her husband have always made us feel so very welcome and loved. We have wonderful memories of sitting around the fire watching Christmas movies, and incredibly delicious food.

My grandsons Josiah and Payton a couple of Christmases ago

9. Do you have a special Christmas outfit to wear for the day?--I try to have something festive and new to wear for the Swanson family gathering (which is now no longer on Christmas Eve. The brothers and sisters now celebrate Christmas Eve with their own individual kids and grandkids, since the family has gotten so big.) But on Christmas Day it's usual something pretty but comfortable.
My Christmas tree in 2012

10. Have YOU or any of your family members sat on Santa's lap?--Not me! I think all my kids have at one point, as babies. I don't think they liked it, either!

11. What is/or will be on your Christmas tree this year?--I don't think I'm going to put one up this year...it's already a little late in the game.  When I was planning to put it up, I was going to decorate it in teal, silver and white, to complement my relatively new livingroom decor.

12. Do you/or have you decorated your yard for Christmas?--Not really. I have some wreaths on the lights on either side of my garage door, and a wreath on the door, but that's about it.

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