I just get such a kick out of Christmas trees. I love to see them lit up and decorated, mainly because everyone has such different styles. Some go for the themed tree, like a friend, who had a sparkly pink tree every year, decorated with her meticulously curated Barbie doll ornament collection, and with extra sparkly tinsel. Some go for the less-is-more tree, sparsely decorated save for a string of lights with brightly colored bulbs. Then there's the everything-but-the-box-they-came-in method, which involves practically throwing everything you've got at the tree -lights, tinsel, ornaments, all - until it threatens to pancake all of the presents stored underneath.
All of the trees are good to me. There's a certain magic to them, and I can literally spend hours sitting in our living room, watching ours.
Our tree is fake (I know, it's terrible), and decorated with the same set of themed ornaments as we have for the past few years. It's become familiar to me, which is why I like it. We have other decorations too (like the entire collection of Nutcrackers leering at you from our fireplace mantle, sheesh), and while I'll always love our various Nativity scenes, or the wreaths hung up everywhere, my favorite will always be the tree, and the things underneath it.
Well, more like underneath, and then a little to the side. Regardless, our beautiful tree stands tall above what I believe is the most precious sort of decorating: our Christmas books. We pretty much have a collection of books for every season. All our tea party-bunny rabbit-Easter books are out around Springtime, and all of our spooky stuff is out around Halloween, but our Christmas book collection is by far the most expansive, and the favorite among the family.
They total in to about forty-three books, with doubles of The Polar Express and The Nutcracker, and a pop-up carousel of The Night Before Christmas. I've read all of them, multiple times. Each one will sufficiently infuse you with holiday spirit.
My favorites, though, are easy to pick out. These are the ones that bring me the most joy, the ones that traditions have formed around.
1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
A classic, and one that will always have its place in my heart. Mainly because of Jim Carrey :)
2. The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg, illustrated by James Bernadin
In my opinion, the best Christmas book under our tree. It details the story of a girl, learning the truth of the season, through a story about how candy canes are decorated. I really love this one.
3. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, illustrated by Paul Micich.
I have to make sure no one else is in the room when I read this one, because it always, no matter how many times I've now read it, makes me cry. It is about the gift of a small angel to the newborn baby Jesus, and it is the most beautifully illustrated book in our collection.
4. Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera.
The Cheerleader's favorite. A pretty cute book about a spoiled girl, who learns the true meaning of Christmas, thanks to her mysterious Auntie Claus.
5. Alabaster's Song and The Crippled Lamb, both by Max Lucado, and illustrated by Michael Garland and Liz Bohnam, respectively.
Our mom has this huge thing about Max Lucado's children books, particularly the ones about Punchinello & the Wemmicks, which we read to our Sunday School class every spring. Out of the two Christmas books of his we own, I like the Crippled Lamb, which does not make me cry, the best, as opposed to Alabaster's Song, which does make me cry. Another thing I like about the Crippled Lamb is that he wrote it with his daughters, which I think is something I have always wanted to do with my Dad.
There are plenty of other good Christmas books, of course. And if you ask my siblings, the youngest two would probably say they like Alan Katz and David Catrow's silly dilly song collection, Where Did They Hide My Presents?, the best. However, mine were chosen because they always manage to remind me of the greatness of the holiday, and why we celebrate it.