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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Santa = Books

When I was a itty, bitty Scottish lass one thing I looked forward to all year was meeting Santa Claus and Santa = Books or, more correctly, Santa = Book. I'm not talking here about meeting Santa at a department store, though I did do that at least one time which I can remember.

Funnily enough I remember nothing about meeting Santa that department store time; what I do clearly remember was the bizarre elements of this experience. The Santa display was located on the 5th floor of the department store, at least that is my version and I'm sticking to it. The only way to reach it was to climb the concrete back stairs and to wait in a big long line which snaked it's way up said stairs. I'd been in that store many times before with my mom, but we'd never climbed up that dismal stairway. It made no sense to me that we couldn't just climb the perfectly nice, carpeted stair like usual. I'm also sure I remember money changing hands party-way through the waiting process. "Why do we have to pay to see Santa Claus?", I'm sure I asked. After all, doesn't Santa give away toys for free? Anyway, I digress, because that is not the Santa who gave me books, that is not the real Santa Claus.

In case you wondered, Stories of Santa is an Usborne book, which does NOT contain my story dictated here... back to the story.

The real Santa Claus arrived on his sleigh, complete with jingling reindeer, only at the West Parish Church Primary Sunday School Christmas Party and only if we sang Jingle Bells lustily enough. Well, hopefully the real Santa Claus also brought my presents on Christmas night, but that time I did not get to see or hear him. Again I digress. The excitement of hearing Santa's sleigh arrive was almost too much. Understandably there were always a host of volunteers stationed at the hall doors to make sure no determined children escaped to the outside to see Santa's sleigh, otherwise the magic would surely disappear.

A few minutes after the adrenaline hyped children heard Santa's reindeer bells, he would appear with his very large sack over his shoulder, a sack which contained one present for each child in sunday school. It was really, really hard to sit still until your name was called. Somehow I could believe in Santa, but I could not believe that my name wouldn't be the one name which Santa failed to read aloud. It was a long, tiring process, made magical by the knowledge that Santa really had come and really had brought a gift for everyone. I only remember one gift that Santa ever gave me, or anyone, at the Sunday school Christmas party. It was a book. It was Leander the Gander. It was a book I hated and loved at the same time. It's the book of which the inside cover is shown here over on the left. It's a book about a gander who swaps necks with a cat and then with a pig. It makes absolutely no sense to me now, and it made no sense to me then. While I hated the story, it was one of a very small number of books I had as a child and maybe even the first one that was mine alone. That's why Santa = Books and why I brought this book across the Atlantic with me and still have it on my shelf. Or is that because I'm a bibliophile?

Actually I remember being pretty disappointed that Santa had brought me a book and not a toy. Now if only he'd brought me a big stack of great children's books, like the complete collection of Dr Seuss or something, I'd have been a happy little bibliophile. Was that too much to ask? You decide.

What did Santa give you? Did he give you a book? Do you still have it? This post is part of the 2008 Blog Advent Tour. Today's other participant is Lisa at Books, Lists, Life.

Surprisingly you can see Leander the Gander in all his clean-jacket fineness for sale over at Crickhollow Books. Imagine that - maybe Santa shopped there!
The 4-for-3 book sale is still going on - children's books in the 4-for-3 sale.


Krissi said...

I love that Santa=Books. Our Santa at home always brings books to our children. A few of Santa's friends find this weird and think that our children are disappointed. However, I hope that it is helping them build a love for reading that will last them through out the year.

Lisa said...

Santa always brought toys on Christmas. He was the one that brought the BIG gift (the Bike, the dollhouse, whatever) and it was always left unwrapped front and center.

The only Santa that I remember sitting on his lap and getting a gift from brought a Bible. Which, in retrospect, is an odd gift from Santa of all people.

Thanks for stopping by my post today.

Alison said...

Hi Lisa and Krissi, thanks for visiting today. Yes, 'Santa' always came down the chimney and left me a bigger gift at Christmas and it was unwrapped. Strangely enough Handyman Hubby says his Santa gift was always wrapped. Hey, I'm mom around here and the one that makes sure Santa letters are written so my kids get an unwrapped gift from Santa. I guess Santa wants to keep me sweet :-)

I know what you mean Lisa about the Bible. You'll see in the picture of the inside of my Leander the Gander book that there is a book label stating I received this book from the Sunday school. So, how exactly did Santa get those labels on? My parents never answered that one!

Kailana said...

Great post! Maybe when I was really little Santa gave me books, but I don't really remember. All I know is that I am the one always explaining to my parents (and Santa) that I would prefer books to toys... It was a very hard concept for them to get.

Melissa said...

Santa at our house always leaves books, at least one per girl. I'm not sure how much they appreciate it, but it's not going to change. :)

Lovely post.

Becky said...

I loved the lustily singing Jingle Bells bit. That's the tradition at our church too. Jingle Bells loudly makes Santa appear. Santa--the church Santa--sometimes brought toys--I remember receiving my fair share of Barbies. But one Christmas, Santa brought me a Bible--my very first Bible. That was truly something :)

Alison said...

It's nice to know that I'm sharing the blogosphere with so many book lovers.

Kailana - sometimes adults can be a bit 'thick'. Keep working on them, my kids do!

Melissa - it's nice to find another Kansas book nut. Keep giving those books, no, I got that wrong, it's Santa that is giving the books. Good for him! I'd love for every child to receive a book at Christmas. If you ever need book recommendations for under 12 year old kids give me a shout.

Becky - I can relate to the joy of receiving a special book. This year my wishlist includes the rebinding of a favorite book of mine. It's old and worn, but I love it and want to take care of it. Maybe my hubby will oblige by granting my wish.

Debbie said...

Me too! I love that Santa=books.
And I love your story, your memory.
Thanks for sharing

Trish said...

Funny how the tables turn, huh? Now all I want are books for Christmas and no one else wants to give them. :) Santa=books is awesome.

Merry Christmas!

Kim said...

Santa usually meant at lease one book each year while I was growing up. I have a whole wish list for Santa to bring me this year though! :)

My kids usually get a paperback or a couple of nicely preserved used books in their stocking, and then nice hardbacks of some type as a wrapped gift each year.

Yeah for books! My advent post is up for Dec. 4th and strangely enough it is about books too!
*smiles and thanks for sharing today*

bigSIS said...

I don't think there is anything better than getting a book for Christmas, thus I always try to get my kids books.

THanks for sharing!

Sherry said...

I once got up at 2AM, found the books from Santa under the Christmas tree, and proceeded to read one there in front of the tree until I fell asleep about two hours later. I was about eleven years old. ˇhanks for jogging my memory.

While I'm out and about for the Blog Advent Tour, I'm inviting folks to the Saturday Review of Books held at my blog Semicolon each Saturday. If you've never participated, it's a chance to leave links to your book reviews for the week and read those of others. Here's last Saturday's Review, for a sample. I hope to see you on Saturday

Bogsider said...

Wonderful story and while I haven't really experienced something similar, I can easily relate to the whole Santa=Books thing. I always get books for Christmas and has been getting them since I was little.

Julia Smith said...

I love that Santa = Books. My Christmas has never been without books and I doubt it ever will be.

Alison said...

I really, really appreciate all of you visiting and leaving comments. I feel very, very welcomed by the book blogger community. I will try to visit all of your blogs in return once I get caught up here with today's homeschooling and with writing today's post.

Sarah said...

Santa always put candy canes on our tree. This still happens at my dad's house for the grandchildren and it gives me warm fuzzies every time I see them.

splummer said...

I am late getting around to reading all the blogs. Your story of the Santa=Book is marvelous! Thanks for sharing!


Susan said...

I laughed so hard reading your post! you caught a child's view of Christmas perfectly - and that you never get what you really want, as a child, but sometimes it turns out to have a wonderful long-lasting effect! I love that you brought the book with you across the ocean, even though you might hate it too! bibliophile, book lust, book lover, it doesn't matter: Santa brought you the best gift ever! Thank you so much for your advent tour post!

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