In the December 2021 newsletter, I asked readers for any Christmas memories related to books.

Here are the responses:

Robin: Both my husband and I trained as Teacher Librarians in the 1970s as we wanted to pass on our love of books to the children we taught and our own.
For many years one of my Christmas presents from him would be the latest Anne McCaffrey and presents from other family would include related items like The Atlas of Pern, The People of Pern, The Dragon-lovers Guide to Pern and dragons in many shapes, sizes and forms. I enjoyed all of her books and usually re-read one of her series after Christmas in the school summer holidays.

Pat: I always enjoy reading all of this mid-month newsletter. Something always catches my eye. One Christmas I got 6 books for Christmas. # Nancy Drew and 3 Trixie Belden. From there I went to my first paying job working in our local Library. Still just love the smell of books. Merry Christmas!!

Deborah: Christmas memories: Before ebooks, every year I would get mom a hardcover book. They were usually by Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell, or James Patterson. After mom read them, I’d get to read them. It’s great that we have the same taste in books so we can share them. We don’t buy physical books anymore but we still share ebooks.

Christine: My Christmas Book Story would be the old classic –
Each year one of us kids would read from this big Santa shaped book depicting the poem, The Night Before Christmas. It was always prominently displayed propped up under the Christmas Tree (getting a little more worn as each year went by). As we got older my Mom would then enlist the little neighbor boy to read it out loud during a holiday get together. It was always nice to see the tradition carry on. Eventually that very worn, but very beloved book passed on to my sister who had three children of her own. I always smile when I see that book, and it brings back some very dear and cherished memories, especially now that my mother has since passed on (no less around Christmas).

Chris: Thanks, Graeme, for sharing that Christmas memory. I’m very glad you were given some special books to get you through a tough situation. Books have helped me during low times in my life, too. I don’t have any special memories of receiving books at Christmas but I do remember giving a Judy Blume book set to my niece one Christmas eve. She was probably close to ten years old and I’ll never forget her big smile and shining eyes as she held the books in joy. It made me feel so good! Not every gift hits a home run but that Christmas, one did.

Pat; I have always been a great reader, so Christmas always included a book or two. I remember receiving Black Beauty, Lassie books and an Annette book. (For younger readers, Annette was one of the original Mouseketeers and went on to star in Beach Blanket movies.) Another was a one-book volume of Lorna Doone and Pride and Prejudice. I was about 12, and did not get the subleties of P&P but loved Lorna Doone. Came around to the virtues of P&P later. Also Swiss Family Robinson, Heidi and many more classics. I still have them among my (too) many books. They just can’t be given away.
Boxing Day was always spent with my new book, the family jigsaw puzzle and turkey sandwiches. Thanks to my parents for indulging me with books, even though they were not readers.
I still receive books at Christmas from my kids. And I admit to self-gifting the odd book–or three or four.

Pam: My memories of Christmas’ and books is an easy question. It is this year! My husband and I are 76 years old and what do you buy for a person who doesn’t need anything more and who has most of what they need. Yes, books! So many books to read and so little time left. My husband has taken an interest in Lincoln and the Civil War. Under the tree is 7 books in that genre. All were purchased used and all came in very good condition. What to do with them when he finishes is the question!

Irene: I have several Christmas related book memories. Every year for a very long time, I have re-read A Christmas Carol by Dickens, usually on Christmas Eve. It’s a fast read and fills me with the Christmas spirit.

There is also a very old book in my possession called A Christmas Feast, described on the dust jacket as A Treasury of Yuletide Stories and Poems for the Whole Family which is a compendium of works from a large collection of authors like Agatha Christie, Robert Frost, Washington Irving and others. Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is, of course, included. I used to read excerpts from the compendium almost every year and somehow, got out of the habit. Your question has prompted me to pick it up and go back through it again.

Barb: One of my grandmother’s friends was Anna (Rose) Wright. She was an author. Every Christmas my grandmother would give me her latest book. I still have them – need to go back and read them again.

Laura: The Christmas of 1965 was my tenth one and I received 8 Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott.
This started my lifelong love affair with reading. There is nothing like immersing yourself in another world with characters that are so real that you laugh and cry and mourn with them and I often neglected my own world to stay in whatever one held me enthralled. I reread my books and find I often discover things I missed in the first read. I read all of Zane Grey’s books through my early teen years.
Merry Christmas to all my fellow bookworms.

Linda: I only remember always getting books for Christmas as it always topped my list as a child and as an adult. Then to carry on the tradition, I always get my one and only grandchild, Ady, a book or two for Christmas. She is an avid reader like her grandma. Then we started another tradition when she was just a baby. Her grandpa, my husband, died when Ady was 9 months old. Her first Christmas he gave her a book of course. Then before he died we selected several books for different ages and he signed them with a little note and I gave them to her each year. We always told her these books came from Grandpa Jim in heaven. She is now 10 and I think I have just one more book to give her from him. It has made special memories for her that will last a lifetime. She talks about her Grandpa Jim like she knows him even though we don’t think she remembers him at all. That is my special Christmas memory. Merry Christmas to all of you and hope you all have a blessed holiday.

Vicki: I learned quickly in my marriage that my mother-in-law was an avid reader. She loved to give books as gifts. During the early years of my marriage, she gave me a James Herriot book each Christmas. The last one of the first four (American versions) came out in 1981. I’m pretty sure she gave that one to me newly published. Although the marriage ended, my friendship with my mother-in-law didn’t. Those original books she gave me still sit on my bookshelf. I recommend those books to friends to this day.

Kat: i loved getting the original nancy drew mystery books for xmas presents. i have the whole set! thanks for asking

Deb: Wow. Graeme. You got rid of all your actual books?? I did get rid of a lot of mine when I started using a Kindle. (We moved into a new house right about then so weeding them out was a little easier.). But I have some I hope I never have to give up. A beautiful edition of The Lord Of The Rings, some very old copies of children’s books passed down from my grandmother, and some just too dear to my heart to let go.

I do have a funny Christmas story. The year I turned twelve (a long time ago!) my grandmother gave me the complete works of Shakespeare, including the sonnets, in a really beautifully bound version. She also gave me the complete works of Ian Fleming! It made me so happy that someone realized how varied my interests were. I still have all of those books too.

Thank you again for your newsletter. I do so look forward to them! I wish you and your family the happiest of holidays

Lynda: Years ago my favorite author was James Michener. I had read all of his books except the most recent and for Christmas each of my three children gave me “The Caribbean”. I believe the year was 1989. Such a wonderful gift of the book and of my children knowing me so very well.

Karen: My Danish grandparents sent 4 books of scary nursery stories, all or most by Hans Christian Anderson. Mom read them to me & my sister. The first book I received that I cherished and read many times was Black Beauty. I loved horses, but lived 150 miles from my Texas grandparent’s ranch. We visited often so I got to ride the horse by myself from an early age and miss it all, my grandparents, the ranch, and my/their horse.

Jackie: Hi, this subject really caught my interest. I’ve had a love of books since before I can remember.
I grew up an only child, also the only child in our family Christmas Eve get together having no cousins. After our dinner my mother would allow me to open one gift. She “helped” me with the choice and somehow that gift always ended up being a new book. So while the grown ups talked away the evening, I very happily entered the world of my new book.
What could have been a very lonely time, wasn’t. Thank you for bringing back these sweet Christmas Eve memories.
Ginny: I had to chuckle a little at your question because my Christmas memories involving books are not good memories; they’re more bittersweet memories.

During my childhood, my father was a professor at a prestigious university. Although he made a good salary, at his insistence we lived a fairly Spartan life. (I know now that lots of post-depression people were like that.) We bought marked-down bread and cake at the A&P or the Piggly Wiggly (Spanish Bar, gah!), we had to drink reconstituted powdered milk (gah!), and our sandwiches at lunch were made from the cheapest lunch meat available (braunschweiger, gah!) My mother gave us all haircuts when we needed them (never a salon or a barber shop). Our clothes were never the latest fashion, and were often the packaged leftovers from Sears that had not sold previously. We had to turn out the lights every time we left a room, not fill the tub all the way at bath-time, and in the house we were made to wear slippers called Moc-A-Socks.

Despite all this, I had a fairly happy childhood. I was an insatiable reader, and I had free access to all sorts of books from the university, so I at least always had plenty to read.

Our Christmases were pretty Spartan, too. I used to get a book or two for Christmas, but my parents’ idea of a Christmas gift was a dictionary or an atlas. One year I got a book called Around the World in 1,000 Pictures. And, of course, every Christmas I got a new pair of Moc-A-Socs. I was disappointed every year until I got to about the age of 14; by then, I knew what to expect for Christmas!

Looking back on it now, I realize that even if my parents had wanted to get me a book for Christmas that I actually enjoyed, that they would have had no idea what to get me, because I had already read everything! In any case, now that I am older and have had children, and my parents are long gone, I am a lot more forgiving of my Spartan parents than I was at the time . . .

But here’s a nod to all the people who used to get Moc-a-Socs for Christmas!

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Christmas Book Memories

2 Responses to “Reader Mailbag: Christmas Book Memories”

  1. Lon Burke: 2 years ago

    Hi Graeme. Happy New Year, and continue the wonderful job you do with this site. I’m curious if you have been able to read Cloud. CUCKOO Land by Anthony Doerr. Interested in what you think. Although I think Doerr is a great writer, I’m not too sure how I feel about this one. In many reviews it was rated top 10 for 2021. Would like your thoughts if and when you get to read it. Thanks, and have a great 2022.


    • Graeme: 2 years ago

      Hi Lon – Happy New Year! I have not had the chance to read it yet but will add it to my list 🙂


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