Most little girls ask for dolls or a tea set for Christmas. Or, at least they did, in the days before television.
I liked dolls well enough, and we had Grandma's dishes from soap boxes to use for our imaginary parties. For those who don't remember, companies used to insert dishes in boxes of soap powder and someone who did a lot of laundry could accumulate an entire set, if she was lucky and didn't end up with seven saucers, one cup and five cereal bowls.
Maybe that's what Grandma's neighbor was doing when she hung out her laundry every day of the week and not just on Monday. "That family must be awfully clean or awfully dirty," Grandma observed.
So, having a family of dolls and enough dishes to invite the Queen for supper, I asked for books. When Christmas came and there wasn't at least on flat, rectangular package under the tree with my name on it, I was filled with disappointment. It didn't matter what else I received. If there was no book, my holiday was ruined.
After my parents discovered this, they made sure I wasn't sulking all Christmas Day while my brother and sister played with their new toys. First there were the Bobbsey Twins: Nan and Bert, the older twins, and Freddy and Flossie, the younger set. This lasted for several Christmases. Then I graduated to Nancy Drew. There were a few other, non-series books, along the years that I have forgotten the titles of.
The problem was, I read the books too quickly and often was finished by the end of the day. One year my exasperated parents presented me with the entire set (to date -- they were produced until 1955) of the Honey Bunch books. Honey Bunch was a saccharinely sweet little girl who had numerous adventures which I was privileged to share. The set lasted about a week.
I still think a book is the best gift. A few years ago I went to a book store and selected books for all my grown sons. This was not a hit. They like to read, but our tastes are too dissimilar. The only authors we share a liking for are Neal Stephenson and Clive Cussler.
Same goes for the grandkids. I spent the month before Christmas last year e-mailing back and forth with my daughter-in-law: me suggesting a book and her telling me they had already read it. I ended up sending her money to buy them gift cards a a local book store.
So -- there most likely won't be a book under my tree this year unless I go out, buy it, and wrap it myself.
Which isn't a bad idea.
Merry Christmas to one and all.