Ray and I returned home on Tuesday evening after a weeklong vacation, which I am looking forward to sharing with you over the next few days. On our last day away, I grabbed a few things in an unfamiliar grocery store. I’ve been in a Christmassy mood lately, so I enjoyed looking at the pretty decorations in a mini-gift store beside the floral department.
However, one decoration in a section of white farmhouse-style items made me sad. It was a stack of three fake hardback books tied with red and white striped ribbon. Each “book” was exactly the same size, shape, and color — say five inches across by seven inches or so tall and an inch and a half thick. The only difference was the titles: The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, and The Night Before Christmas.
Those of you who have known me for a long time know that what I am about to write is not coming from the heart of some “intellectual snob.” I don’t actually carry all of these details around in my head. I had to look up some of them. Please bear with me as I try to make what I believe is an important point.
Of course, the purpose of this decoration was to invoke Christmassy feelings. I am sad because these “books” were simply shells made of paper. They were mere shadows of a rich and beautiful reality. Real people created what these “books” represented, real people whose names were not even printed on them.
The Nutcracker is a ballet, with music by Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky and original choreography by French ballet master Marius Petipa. German author E.T.A. Hoffman wrote the book, The Nutcracker and Mouse-King, that inspired the ballet (I haven’t read that book, but I did read that it is a much darker story than the ballet).
American professor Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” The words “the night before Christmas” is actually a portion of the first line of that poem.
English author Charles Dickens wrote the novella, A Christmas Carol.
The decoration I saw on Tuesday reminded me of a conversation I had with a woman many years ago. We were talking about Beatrix Potter’s 23 original child-size books about Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, and her other animal characters. The woman told me that she had never thought about reading those books but that she had used them for decorations. Oh, what joys her children could have found between the covers of those pretty decorations.
So, what is my point? Our society, our families, and our children need reality — not reality, as in reality TV or some such. We need to read real books, read real poetry, and see real people perform their talents onstage. It doesn’t have to be with expensive tickets to the Moscow Ballet. It can be a free local dance recital or a free community band concert or a free church performance of the Messiah.
Thank you for being mamas who give your children real books and real experiences.
In all labor there is profit,
But mere talk leads only to poverty.
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue,
but in deed and truth.
1 John 3:18
If you couldn’t hear me on the video yesterday, I’m sorry for the trouble. I think the link below will work for you.