Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Christmas Wish

Like so many people, I am devastated by the Sandy Hook tragedy last week.  I can't seem to stop hugging my kids a little tighter and feeling truly blessed for having them with me, safe and sound, each minute that they are with me.  Yesterday, my son turned 5.  There was much to celebrate, and although he doesn't know it, I was even more emotional inside than I usually am on his birthday.  He knows nothing about the Newtown atrocity, and I hope he never has to know the fear, unanswerable questions, and indescribable sadness that so many children and families are experiencing right now.  Yesterday, we celebrated, sang, played, laughed, and loved as hard as we knew how.  It was perfect.

Today, I tried not to think about it all as my husband went off to his school to teach and I dropped my son off at preschool.  Not in a disrespectful way, of course -- my thoughts and love continuously go out the families of Newtown -- but in a "I have to hold myself together for my kids' sake" kind of way.  I did read the text from the President's address last night, and hid my tears from my daughter as she sat playing next to me.  I was, not surprisingly, very moved by his words, and felt the excerpt below was worth sharing:

Someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around. With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves — our child — is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice. And every parent knows there is nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet, we also know that with that child's very first step, and each step after that, they are separating from us; that we won't — that we can't always be there for them. They'll suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments. And we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear.
And we know we can't do this by ourselves. It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can't do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we're counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we're all parents; that they're all our children.
This is our first task — caring for our children. It's our first job. If we don't get that right, we don't get anything right...
There's only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child's embrace — that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that's what matters. We know we're always doing right when we're taking care of them, when we're teaching them well, when we're showing acts of kindness. We don't go wrong when we do that.
So true, isn't it?
There is so much I could write or say this week, but it all feels a bit too deep and heavy for me to share on here.  Instead, I keep coming back to the message expressed in one of my favorite Christmas songs, "The Christmas Wish," from John Denver and the Muppets album, A Christmas Together.  It was one of my favorite albums as a child, and is usually the first Christmas music my kids and I listen to each year.  As a child, I always just enjoyed this song and thought it was pretty, but as an adult, in never fails to make me cry when I really stop and listen to the words.  I often sing it to my daughter at bedtime, and she affectionately calls it "the Kermit Christmas song."  Now, I really can't sing or listen to it without crying.  If you've never heard it, I encourage you to take a listen or read the lyrics below.
Wishing everyone, everywhere, a season filled with peace and love.

The Christmas Wish

From John Denver and the Muppets A Christmas Together
Words & Music by Dan Wheetman

I don't know if you believe in Christmas,
or if you have presents underneath a Christmas tree.
But if you believe in love,
that will be more than enough
for you to come and celebrate with me.
For I have held the precious gift that love brings,
even though I never saw a Christmas star.
I know there is a light,
I have felt it burn inside,
and I have seen it shining from afar.

Christmas is the time to come together,
a time to put all differences aside.
And I reach out my hand to the family of man
to share the joy I feel at Christmas time.

For the truth that binds us all together
I would like to say a simple prayer
that at this special time you will have true peace of mind
and love to last throughout the coming year.

And if you believe in love 
that will be more than enough
for peace to last throughout the coming year.
And peace on earth will last throughout the year.


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