Holiday Cheer: Favorite Books for the Month of December

Do you have some books that are like best friends?

Are there stories you return to again and again? I know, for me, the answer is “Yes” to both questions.

So here are some of my favorite reads for December:

Pilgrims Inn (aka The Herb of Grace). This is a novel by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Goudge. Written in the 1940’s, It’s a multigenerational story about a family who buys an old country inn near where the husband was raised and his mother still lives. They take in a London artist and his daughter as their first guests and hire a down and out couple to help them run the inn. As the family struggles to adjust to their new lifestyle and explore their new home, the mixture of place and people is magical, and their Christmas celebration is the climax of the story. (Just a side note for any animal lovers, Goudge is crazy about dogs, and Grandmother’s dogs are classic.)

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas:  This is a novella by Madeleine L’Engle that I cut out of a magazine when I was a young, before I ever knew I who Madeleine L’Engle was. It has just been rereleased this year in hardback. (Someone in my family will be finding this beneath the tree!) It, too, is a family story, told from the middle child, Vicky Austin’s point of view. (Yes, that Vicky Austin—Any of you familiar with L’Engle’s work will know she wrote a series of novels about Vicky and her family.) This Christmas, the Austin’s are not just waiting for the celebration of Christ’s birth, but also for a new, little member of their family to be born. Vicky has been given a very important role in the Christmas pageant and is worried she might mess up and let everyone down. Even though this story is not conveniently broken up into twenty-four little readings, I loved reading it to my kids over the weeks of advent. Those are precious and cherished memories.

And last, but by no means least!

Santa’s Favorite Story. This is a picture book by Hisako Aoki. When my children were little ( well, no actually, until they moved out of my home) I always bought them a Christmas book each Christmas. This is one I found for my oldest son when he was about three years old. I loved it so much, his sister and baby brother each got their own copies over the years as well. In the book, the animals find Santa napping in the woods and are worried that because he wasn’t back at the house working, there would be no Christmas. He assures them such an outcome would be impossible, but they go back with him and help him get ready just in case. When all their work is done they celebrate and Santa tells them his favorite story—the story of the first Christmas. In a season our culture has sculpted into a materialistic orgy, the beauty and simplicity of this story is a balm for the soul.

What do you love to read in December?