Orphaned Misfit Holiday

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Back at the apartment, Roxy was hanging up our stockings and making invitations to our annual Christmas Eve dinner party for friends who don’t visit family for the holidays. She’d rented a deep fryer and Guitar Hero, and had a Charlie Brown tree in every room. The holiday season fuelled Roxy, filled her with kindness for all the local orphaned twenty-something misfits. I just wished the holiday was over. In January, I can start over, I thought, along with everyone else.

Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall

This novel won the Lambda Literary Award: Transgender. A review can be seen HERE. More award winners can be found on the Amazon.com  Lambda Literary Award: Transgender listing.

Book Review: Letters from Santa and the Ice Bear

JRR Tolkien took Christmas pretty seriously. He took the time to write complete letters to his children in the name of Santa. He even created a strange, spindly and unfamiliar (to his family) form of handwriting, so the children wouldn’t know they came from dad.

There’s also a collection of fun personalities that live with Santa, including the Polar Bear, who is both hapless and mischievous:

“Still [Polar Bear] is all right now—I know because he has been at his tricks again: quarreling with the Snowman (my gardener) and pushing him through the roof of his snow house; and packing lumps of ice instead of presents in naughty children’s parcels. That might be a good idea, only he never told me and some of them (with ice) were put in warm storerooms and melted all over good children’s presents!”

And very pleasant neighbors:

“The Man in the Moon paid me a visit the other day—a fortnight ago exactly—he often does about this time, as he gets lonely in the Moon, and we make him a nice little Plum Pudding (he is so fond of things with plums in!).”

In several others, the North Pole is attacked by goblins who actually wage war on the Christmas castle, but find all of Santa’s helpers are far better versed in combat than one might assume – particularly the bear. The goblin wars are exciting, but they are an unusual (and vaguely violent) perspective on Father Christmas, which made them feel a bit odd at points. If you’ve read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, than these stories will sound very familiar.

“I had to blow my golden trumpet (which I have not done for many years) to summon all my friends. There were several battles—every night they used to attack and set fire in the stores—before we got the upper hand, and I am afraid quite a lot of my dear elves got hurt…They have rescued all my reindeer. We are quite happy and settled again now, and feel much safer. It really will be centuries before we get another goblin-trouble. Thanks to Polar Bear and the gnomes, there can’t be very many left at all”

The dates on the letters range from 1920 to 1943, so Santa’s struggles with WWII are detailed in several.

“I am so glad you did not forget to write to me again this year. The number of children who keep up with me seems to be getting smaller: I expect it is because of this horrible war, and that when it is over things will improve again, and I shall be as busy as ever. But at present so terribly many people have lost their homes: or have left them; half the world seems in the wrong place.”

From both a historical and biographical perspective, this portion of the letters are fascinating – to an adult. I attempted to explain the historic significance of those dates to the children in my life and they just stared at me with blank confusion.

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My only complaint about the hardcover version  centers on the illustrations. Tolkien included several pictures, illustrating the North Pole and the antics of the Ice Bear. The hard cover edition provides glossy, full-color reproductions of the handwritten letters and all illustrations, but the size of the book is slightly large than a pocket novel (about the size of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper folded in half), so these reproductions are hard to see.

What I wish they had done was a large format, full color, 3-D version similar to the Ologies books, such as Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons (Ologies) by Dr. Ernest Drake (Author), Dugald A. Steer (Editor).

This super-fancy format would provide ample room for showing off the letters and illustrations, including little envelopes with copies of the letters included. The Dragonalogy book’s secret pockets with letters in both English and in runes are fascinating to children and just-plain-fun for us stodgy-old-adults.

There are many more quotes from this book already posted to this blog, including those mentioned above.

Book reviewed: Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

Innocence is Precious

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To me, the longer a child believes in Santa Claus, the longer they hold on to their innocence, which is a very precious thing.

Being Santa Claus: What I Learned about the True Meaning of Christmas by Sal Lizard, Jonathan P. Lane

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Samurai Santa Brings Snowballs!

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Dear Yukio,
I hope you enjoyed the EPIC snowball fight. I made it just for you.
Sincerely,
Samurai Santa

Samurai Santa, A Very Ninja Christmas, by Rubin Pingk

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Wishes and Childhood

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Children want and need to believe that wishes can come true; that’s part of the joy of childhood.

Being Santa Claus: What I Learned about the True Meaning of Christmas by Sal Lizard, Jonathan P. Lane

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Silent Flying Christmas Eve Canoe

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The voyageurs dipped their paddles. The canoe rose in the air. Faster and faster. higher ad higher. It skimmed the treetops, skirting the clouds as it turned southward.

The Flying Canoe, A Christmas Story retold by Eric A Kimmel and illustrated by Daniel San Souci and Justin San Souci

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Adults Love Santa Too

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I’ve never been able to explain the phenomenon of adults loving Santa, but I have a theory that seeing me jogs happy memories. I think a lot of us wish we could be children again, becoming breathless with Christmas excitement and believing with all our hearts that wishes can come true. I know I do! I think every grown-up wants to recapture that sense of wonder, even for a moment. And that’s exactly what Santa Claus allows them to do.

Being Santa Claus: What I Learned about the True Meaning of Christmas by Sal Lizard, Jonathan P. Lane

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Invisible Threads

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What I loved most was my new friends sitting around the big dining room table, laughing and joking and having fun just being together. I thought about how, when I got older, I wanted to have a family too, and sit around the big dinner table with all my kids and laugh and talk and have a lot of special Christmases together.

An Invisible Thread Christmas Story, written by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski and illustrated by Barry Root. Based on the true story An Invisible Thread.

Bubble Gum

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“To finish off his grand creation, he needed some color. “Pink coloring was the only one I had at hand,” said the inventor, so in it went!

A batch was cut into pieces and five pounds of it was brought to a local mom-and-pop store. It was the day after Christmas, and the kids who came into the store got the present of a lifetime! They were the first people in the world to try bubble gum that worked.”

Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy

Some things you wanted

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And one final word from Santa on this lovely Christmas day:

“My dear people: there seem to get more and more of you every year. I get poorer and poorer: still I hope that I have managed to bring you all something you wanted, though not everything you asked for…”

Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien