The Crappiest Version of The First Christmas for Toddlers

For Evan’s first Christmas, I bought a little board book to read to him the story of the first Christmas.  I’m very big on keeping religious holidays religious as I often, as a child, sat with our dog explaining the story of Easter and Christmas.  So I picked up a cute little board book somewhere, and I guess I should have read it first or at least bought it at a Christian story because this is probably the worse story I have ever read.

 

The book is The Christmas Story (the name says it all) by Patricia A. Pingry.  First off, there are several grammatical errors.  I hate BS like that.  Sure, I’ll let one or two errors slide in an 800 page book (that’s a lot of words to read and edit), but we’re talking about 200 words.  Honestly, who didn’t read this book out loud to catch it? (Note: for those that don’t know, the best way to check grammar errors is to read it out loud because most often your ears can hear that something isn’t right.)  So I’m expected to read my child, in his most sponge-soaking years, a badly written story, so that he learns the incorrect way to speak.

 

Second there are some flaws in the story like waiting until halfway through the book and say “During the night, Mary’s baby was born.”  It comes out of left field.  Foreshadow, Patty (can I call you Patty or Ms. Pingry?), it’s a valuable tool for writers and helpful for readers.  I get that they wanted to keep it short and sweet.  But you could have nixed the whole “This is the Christmas story” page at the end of the book because you said it in the beginning (very repetitive and boring), and you could have inserted “Mary was going to have a baby” on page three when you talk about Mary riding a donkey and Joseph walking.  Not that that had anything to do with the story either.  Oh, and would it have killed you to mention the town Bethlehem a little earlier?  Because when you get to it, it sounds like oh and they just happened to hit Bethlehem.  It’s a little like saying they happened to brake down in Roanoke, Virginia on their way to Williamsburg.  Bethlehem was the destination, not an occurrence, and kids will never understand why we sing about it if it wasn’t important.  The story doesn’t flow well, and the whole “surprise: Mary’s having a baby” thing just really bothers me.

 

So after two days of reading this stupid book and the only book I could find that year talking about the actual meaning of Christmas, I took out the Sharpie and made a few adjustments to the book.  I’ve contemplated writing to the publisher and asking for a change in the writing.  But then I read their version of the Easter story which includes a whole five pages on the actual story and the rest about how we all go to church on Easter.  I really don’t think the publisher is up to creating high standards.  At least I found another children’s Christmas book this year, but I really ought to shop at a religious store for these things.  But then I find it ironic . . . you know with the Christmas tree, the holly, and the mistletoe and all.

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Creating Tradition

Nothing like two different shoes standing in front of a doorway, waiting to be filled with treats.  I love creating faith, belief, and magic in my boys’ heart, even if they have no idea why their mom made them put their shoes outside their bedroom doors.

 

The nice thing of growing up Catholic is there is no shortage of holidays.  If you grow bored in between Church sanctioned Holy Days of Obligation, just pick a few saint days to celebrate like St. Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day.  Tired of waiting for Christmas to make its way with its joy?  Want to get in touch with your European roots?  Try St. Nicholas’s Day or St. Lucy’s Day.

 

Today is St. Nicholas’s Day, and in my parents’ house, we kids waited anxiously for it, using it as a barometer on where we stood for Christmas.  If the shoe was a little weak in candy, we tried extra hard for brownie points to ensure our Christmas haul.  (Hey, we were kids; naturally we were selfish.)  We would insist that the other two had a smaller amount of candy because St. Nick knew who throw the first punch and who broke the lamp.  Alas, when we tried to trick St. Nick by sticking out a cowboy shoe or a roller skate, we never got more than if we had stuck out our tennis shoe.

 

My mom continued to place candy in our shoes until we started moving out.  I was depressed to spend my first St. Nick’s Day so far from home in a dorm room in California.  As my friends and I gathered to watch our daily Simpson show, I bemoaned the fact that I missed out on St. Nicholas’s Day for the first time in my life.  My best friend yelled “sh-” and yanked my shoe off my foot, running out of the room.  A few minutes later while I continued to rub my mangled foot, he entered the room with my shoe filled with chocolate candies and said (with all the bravo of a horrible actor) “Look!  St. Nick must have come!  You must have been a good little girl!”  Is it any wonder why I loved him?

 

So today I showed Sean and Evan their shoes filled with candy, reminding them of the St. Nicholas’s story that I told the night before.  As the chomped on yummy chocolate, I explained again that we were going to the toy store to buy a toy for a poor little girl or boy.  With a mouth full of chocolate, Evan agreed it was a great idea and ran into the master bedroom to tell Daddy how we had to get dressed so we can buy a toy for a poor little boy or girl.  It was so cute to hear him parrot my words.  I pulled the colored foil out of Sean’s mouth, telling him to give it to Mommy and she would unwrap the candy.

 

At the toy store, Evan quickly spotted the swords and declared them the perfect gift for a little boy.  He then found a Barbie house that was perfect for a little girl or the car racing track, or the circus, or the train, or the Batman cave, or the doll, or the walking dinosaur.  As we were using an old gift certificate that held ten dollars, I informed Evan that we had to pick something small.  We finally settled on a Curious George doll and the sword.  We looked at all sorts of toys, making a mental list for Santa as my husband asked why I didn’t bring any money for gifts for you-know-who and you-know-who.  Because you haven’t given me your Christmas bonus yet, sweetheart.  Finally as I dragged away the boys from the car aisle, only to loose the biggest to the sports memorabilia aisle, I pulled out the gift card and asked Evan if he wanted to pay for it.  YES!  So Evan handed the cashier the card, and Sean grabbed the quarters I was counting out for the tax.  It turns out it was a twenty-five dollar card.  Really?  Oh, well.

 

As we left, my husband tried to convince Evan to go see Bolt, but all Evan wanted to do was go to the museum to see dinosaurs, bats, and a vortex.  To the museum!

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