Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. It’s not that it’s always the best night of the year. Sometimes the din of gift giving is too loud, or the candlelight service fails to move me with its unusual silence. Sometimes I’m just in a foul mood because, well, that can happen regardless of how much we wished it didn’t on days meant to be special. Nevertheless, come December, I find myself looking forward to this day.
Maybe it’s because one of my favorite books as a child was Christmas in Noisy Village. My grandmother’s copy was purchased from a library sale long before I was born, and it was in pretty bad shape when I first got my hands on it. The book hasn’t borne the intervening years well, and the pages now are yellow and torn, but when I pick it up, I’m overcome again by its magic.
Much of that story takes place on Christmas Eve, and I always found that to be wonderfully special. It held all the magic of Christmas without the focus on gifts, which, even as a child, often felt anticlimactic. The excitement of Christmas isn’t really in the accumulation, but in the anticipation, the breathless wonder of dark, starry nights.
It’s that same wonder I see every night when we read our son The House in the Night. The text of the story is sweet and simple, but the art is so special that all three of us feel a powerful connection to the story. There’s one page in particular that my son loves with such passion that he grabs the book (which usually falls on the floor, because six month old fingers don’t have the strength to lift such large board books) and proceeds to have a whole conversation with the moon. The rest of the book has pictures I love even more, but he goes back to that page again and again with such joy that I feel overwhelmed by such pure pleasure.
It’s that kind of happiness I wish all of you today. Many of us have a moment, a favorite passage or illustration, that we go back to for comfort and joy. It’s one of the incredible gifts of reading, in my opinion, to discover those little treasures – those Christmas Eve moments that are familiar and yet delight us anew every time – and today, in the rush of celebrating (or not – this feeling isn’t limited to the holiday spirit!), I hope you have time to pause and remember the rush of joy such a passage brings. Maybe you can look it up and reread it, maybe you can’t, but either way, allow the knowledge of its existence to make today just a little bit brighter.
A sweet day to you all, and I will see you in the new year!