Reading can get you into Christmas spirit

By by kathleen
Dec. 5, 2012 at 6:05 a.m.

I pick out my live tree, decorate to Christmas carols and fill bowls with cinnamon pine cones. Then, and only then, do I hunt down specific favorite books to be enjoyed in the next few weeks. With this, my holiday season has begun.

I spend December looking forward to time with my family in California. After a couple flights and hours of driving, I always step out of the car, breathe in the crisp ocean air, and know I'm home.

Though I am "grown up," I still go to bed excited on Christmas eve for the next morning. I love to wake up early, sneak upstairs in my pajamas and watch the ocean as I wait for my family to stir.

As a child, I used to jump on everyone's beds yelling "It's Christmas!" until they woke up, but they put a stop to that when I was "old enough to know better." (Are you really ever old enough? I think not.)

When everyone (finally) wakes up, we open presents together to the sound of the waves crashing on the bluffs, a fire crackling cheerily in the fireplace and our coffee cups steaming beside us.

As the holiday comes closer and I wait to go home, I naturally become nostalgic and homesick. Reading old favorites is a way to feel at home, even when I can't be there.

"Little Women" opens with Jo grumbling about not having presents; Meg sighing at her old dress; Amy sniffling over being without nice things; and Beth being wistful over her music. I often open up "Little Women" first, as it reminds me of Christmas and my sisters. I like to curl on my couch, make some hot chocolate and start turning the well-loved pages of the book I've read every year since I was a kid.

My older sister was always a lot like Meg, quiet, sweet and little stern at times. My younger sister more resembled Amy. Headstrong, opinionated and the baby of the family. I was always more of a Jo, running around outside or happily buried in my books. Though we never fit our favorite characters perfectly, I cherish the sisterly dynamics of the girls and the timelessness of the story itself.

There is something comforting about reading it each year and knowing what will happen. I love to relive the moments when Meg learns to be humble, Amy learns to be generous and Jo learns to let Fritz into her heart.

Amy falling through the ice is always a little scary, and sweet Beth dying always makes me cry. I know their father will come home just in time for Christmas and they will each grow into the person they strive to be. Most of all, even after Beth passes, they will always be tied together by their childhood years growing up together.

At a time in our lives when my sisters' and I live in different states and only see each other once every couple years; it is nice to be reminded that family will always be there in spirit, even if we can't be together in person.



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