Okay, do we have that all rectified now? Good. Moving on. While Sandra Boynton got her start designing greeting cards, and will probably end up being best known for her incredibly wonderful books for children, for me, the definitive thing that is Sandra Boynton will forever and always be her 1987 book Christmastime. There are many Boynton products I remember from my childhood (my mom's hippo-covered address book stands out in memory), but one year, she got this book, and I don't know if it was the same year or later that I picked it up, but once I did, it was all over. To me this is the definitive holiday book. Nothing says Christmas to me like Boynton's always fun, often silly, sometimes surprisingly practical, and forever entertaining offering.
A tradition my mom, sister, and I had when I was growing up was to gather around before bedtime on Christmas Eve with cocoa (or coffee) and read a selected Christmas story before each opening one present and then heading off to dreamland. Sometimes we would each pick a story, sometimes we would take turns from year to year. When it was my turn to pick, I always, without fail, would pick my favorite excerpt from Christmastime. While not technically an actual story, it never fails to put me in the holiday spirit, or to put a smile on my face.
This book has long been out of print, sadly, but I have periodically waded through the interwebs to try to find an affordable copy in good condition (I have never even considered asking my mom to relinquish her copy). This year, I finally hit the jackpot. (Have I mentioned how much I love Amazon Marketplace?) Of course, the getting of this book couldn't be easy. I ordered it over three weeks ago and the seller promptly shipped it the next day, only to have it returned two weeks later with recipient's address label torn off. She promptly sent me a message and repackaged and reshipped it, and this week it finally arrived. I barely had time to pet it lovingly before my husband whisked it off into the bedroom for some nighttime reading (he came from a pro-Boynton family as well, this is one of the many reasons why we were made for each other).
So this holiday season, I want to share with you some of the awesomeness of this book. Including today, there are seven blog-posting days left before Christmas (wow!), and including the introduction, there are seven chapters in Christmastime. So from now until Christmas, I am going to be sharing the awesomeness of this book with you, a chapter a day. I hope you enjoy this series. I am super excited about it. So, without further ado, here we go!
Getting Ready For The Holidays
"Christmas comes only one day a year, on December 25. But Christmastime is much longer, starting when the stores put up their Christmas displays and ending on January 1st, when everyone joyfully welcomes in the new year, and then regrets it." --Sandra Boynton
In the introduction to Christmastime, Boynton sets out to give her readers an idea of what this book is about--that period of time when people begin to embrace the spirit of the season, diving headfirst into the holidays or putting it off until the very last second. The pages are full of her iconic illustrations, humorously showing hippos and pigs and cats and other animals going about the getting ready to welcome Christmas into their homes.
She acknowledges that the Christmas season has become something so drawn out (even way back in 1987--it amazes me how relevant this book has remained between then and now) that it is easy to go in the opposite direction of the expected reaction, becoming dispirited instead of embracing the holiday season, or even becoming completely overwhelmed. She knows that even when our loved ones try to make us feel better about the frustration that the season can bring, sometimes they only make it worse. Of course, then there are also those people who go out of their way to make other people feel bad about themselves.
She advises her readers to let go of unrealistic expectations and to just go with the flow. She suggests getting back to basics, finding the simple joys in the holiday season and just focusing on one or two of them, such as decorating a tree, caroling with friends, being content to be surrounded by loved ones, or even embracing their inner Scrooge.
She closes out the introduction by reminding us that a cheerful attitude is the key to enjoying the season, and that if we can hold on to that, then getting ready for Christmas becomes its own joy in and of itself.
Tomorrow: Decking the Halls