Santa and Our Family Rituals


Photo of stockings by respresWhen my three children were young, Santa always tucked several books for each of them beneath each stocking. One could trace each child’s current interest by the choices: dinosaurs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, knights and castles, gymnastics, dance. The tradition still continues, but the topics change: filmmaking, modern art, manga and anime, jazz, books about Italy or Japan or France. Books are always part of our holiday celebration! 

Looking Through for Picture Book Gems

I looked back over the family picture books about Christmas to see which were “keepers,” perhaps for potential grandchildren.

The Night Before Christmas

I’ll always vote for a nicely illustrated version of Clement C. Moore’s well-loved poem: The Night Before Christmas, just so kids are used to the cadence of the story. There’s over 60 variations in the Peninsula Library system catalog, but I chose the sprightly colors of Mary Engelbreit's version.

Another Colorful Illustrator

Continuing on the Santa theme, I also like The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett.The sidebar illustrations showing Scandinavian helpers in a Christmas workshop counting down the December days until the crucial sleigh flight through the skies are rich with charming detail.

Importance of Family at Holidays

Lucy and Tom’s Christmas shows small British children anticipating all the holiday rituals. There may be loud crackers to pull after the family meal, but most everything else is the same in this reassuring family book.


I wanted to remind my children of the meaning of Christmas so our Nativity scene is always set up in December in the center of our celebration. A lovely story, full of wonder at the Christmas birth, is Barbara Helen Berger’s The Donkey’s Dream.

Photo credit: respres

Author Bio:

Karen Y. loves the winter holidays, as her young adult children sometimes return home. She also decorates and celebrates Christmas, her birthday and her wedding anniversary, all during a 10 day period, with separate presents for each--none of this three-in-one stuff.

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