It’s just a week before Christmas, and I’m getting excited! My husband and I spent yesterday finishing up our holiday shopping. I’ve spent the previous week trying out cookie recipes to make for my family when my husband and I drive to my parents’ house on Wednesday. I love this time of year!
We also got our very first Christmas tree last week. It’s just a four-foot-tall baby tree, but it’s just the right size to fit my ornament collection. Every year since I can remember, my parents have given my siblings and me an ornament in our Christmas stockings. Here’s a sampling:
The nutcracker is from 1988, the Santa is from 1990, the stocking was handmade by my mother a few years ago, and the snail is my collection’s most recent addition.
Unpacking my ornaments every year is like taking a walk down memory lane. I love seeing recent acquisitions alongside the ornaments I’ve had since childhood. It makes for an eclectic tree, but one in which each piece has a history and reminds me of home and family.
It’s also the time of year when I break out my favorite Christmas book: The Story of Holly & Ivy, written by Rumer Godden and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. It’s a picture book that my mom read to us every year when we were kids. Because it’s on the longer side, she would split the story up over several nights. I enjoyed the lovely illustrations, the familiar story, and the anticipation of the drawn-out reading year after year. Not long ago my mother bought me my own copy of The Story of Holly and Ivy, which I now read each Christmas.
The Story of Holly and Ivy, written in 1958, is about a little girl named Ivy and a doll named Holly. Ivy, who lives in an orphanage, has nowhere to go for Christmas. The head of the orphanage arranges a place for Ivy to spend the holidays, but Ivy wants to visit her “grandmother,” who does not actually exist. Ivy gets off the train on which she’s been sent and wanders the town’s streets, searching for her grandma and wishing she could find her. Meanwhile, Holly watches the Christmas shoppers from her shelf in the toy store, wishing for a little girl of her own. And across town, a childless couple decorates a Christmas tree even though they have no children to enjoy it.
Through a lovely sequence of crossed wires and coincidences, wishes come true and everyone finds his or her place in time for Christmas morning. I always loved the way the story ended, with all the loose ends tied up and everyone happy. I still smile each time I read my favorite childhood Christmas story. If you’ve not yet experienced The Story of Holly and Ivy, I highly recommend it!
Today I’ll be listening to Christmas music and wrapping presents. When I’m done, I plan to spend the afternoon relaxing, most likely lost in a book!
What plans do you have for today? What holiday rituals do you participate in each year?