Stories and Reading Aloud

The house is quiet and feels calm in this hour before everyone goes to sleep. Bedtime used to be the most energy intensive part of my day as I attempted to convince small children that they should lay still long enough for sleep to arrive. I spent years laying down with kids, sitting in the room with kids, or sitting out in the hallway being door guardian. None of those things are required anymore. I do have to remind my teenagers about bedtime, but mostly they accomplish it on their own. On the whole, I like this stage of life better. Bedtime was so hard, particularly because it required super-human patience when my energy was already used up.

But I miss reading stories out loud.

I have shelves full of children’s books, everything from picture books to middle grade. They are full of stories. I remember holding those books and speaking the words that made those stories come to life. I miss having faces turned toward the story, absorbing it. I still get to read aloud sometimes, mostly to other people’s children. But I’ve been wondering if there is a way to convince my teenagers to sit down and listen while Mom reads them Christmas stories. I might get away with it because Christmas makes everyone a bit nostalgic.

Christmas is like a time capsule. This year as I pull out the decorations and ornaments, I discover thoughts and emotions that I accidentally packed away in prior years. Remembered joy and sadness come out of the boxes along with objects that haven’t seen the light of day in eleven months. Ornaments bring back memories from decades ago and from last year. This is both a lovely thing and a difficult one. Since last year I was not in a good place emotionally, this year I have more emotion to process than usual. It helps that the home construction is forcing us to change many of our Christmas patterns. The tree is in a different room, there is no piano on which to display our Christmas pyramid. The physical changes we’re making in our house will create a before and after. That too will get folded into our holiday memories.

I haven’t yet pulled out my stock of Christmas books. They used to line up on the piano, now they’ll need to go elsewhere. But I want them out. I want to have those stories close to hand. And even if I don’t get to read them aloud to my children, I can read some of them to myself. I’m looking forward to seeing my friend the Grinch and remembering once again that we don’t save Christmas, it saves us.