On the Night Before Christmas, Give a Child a Book

lpxmasI don’t think I’m alone when I say it was hard for me to get even 20 minutes of sleep on Christmas Eve. We can all remember lying there, our ears perked for the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof, our guts twisted in excitement for all the loot we would open in mere hours. Months before the big day, I would map out my Santa plan on construction paper—how I would entrap the suited man in the chimney, what treats I would leave for him to enjoy (was I the only one whose parents insisted she leave Santa a beer?), what gifts I anticipated finding under the tree.

My mother, knowing this, planned accordingly. Each Christmas Eve I would receive two gifts—a new pair of pajamas, selected to ensure the ultimate Christmas gift-opening experience (no loose sleeves; nothing too flammable; pants, so I could sit cross-legged on the floor without flashing my undies), and a book to read through the night to stifle my hunger for Christmas morning. So that maybe, just maybe, I would wake up my parents at 5:45 a.m. instead of 5:35 a.m.

In retrospect, Xanax should have been included in the package.

When I was very young, the books were big picture ones, with activities and pulls, pop-ups and smells (fond memories of Dinner With Fox, by Stephen Wyllie). Later, it was Choose Your Own Adventure books, which could keep me entertained for hours. I still get a book, even though (with the help of some wine) I am now able to sleep through the night. But now it’s a book Mom’s been waiting her whole life to share with me. (She accidentally gave me her favorite book, The Razor’s Edge, two different years. I read it both times.)

If you have a child (or a wife or a brother) who needs something to help them get through the night, I highly recommend presenting them with a book. (Choose Your Own Adventures aren’t just for kids.) On a night like Christmas Eve, they’re sure to gobble it up a few times, until at-least-close-to-Dawn.

What book would you give a child on Christmas Eve?