I remember my mom reading Christmas stories to our family when I was young. I remember the tree and the fire in the fireplace and hearing The Gift of the Magi for the first time. I don't know how often she read out loud to us during the holiday season. I do know it was enough to remember and, to inspire a desire to create the same kind of memory with my kids.
If you have never read out loud to your kids before (as in gather all the ages to sit in a room together where they listen to you read a story often without pictures), December is a great time to start. It doesn't have to be a full-length book or novel (but if you want one, try this or this), there are many, many collections of Christmas short stories available for purchase (like this or this or this). If you can only find one night during the season to make it happen, a short story that you can start and finish on the same night would be a great place to start.
A word to the wise or more idealistic/romantic among us... don't worry (or consider the evening a failure) if reading Christmas stories together doesn't turn out how you hoped. I know we would all prefer the experience to look picture perfect with Christmas tree lights, a toasty fire, mugs of hot chocolate, and quiet kids in pajamas hanging on your every word...
However, after many years of read-out-loud experience, I often find myself pausing the story to "strongly encourage" kids to be quiet so others can hear. Sometimes a basketball game is muted in the background while I read. Sometimes, it feels like no one is listening. Sometimes, it feels like a waste of time. But, to give up when it doesn't look or feel like I hoped could result in the loss of a memory for my kids. It doesn't have to be perfect or even done that often to create a lasting memory. It doesn't have to be perfect to be remembered well.
This year, I am planning to take an evening or two to gather my family and read them a Christmas story. I may even attempt a fire in the fireplace and kids in pajamas. Will you join me? Reading together at Christmastime is reason #2 why I love books and reading. Sharing stories with my family is truly one of my favorite things. But at Christmas... there is something a little bit magical about reading together at Christmas, even in the midst of the imperfect messiness of real life.
Do you read out loud with your family at Christmastime? What are your favorite stories to read together?