Archive | l. m. montgomery

Beyond Pop-Up Books: 8 Christmasy Titles to Put You in the Spirit

EP beyond pop-up books

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Eyrie Park is home to thousands of books. There are books in every bedroom, in the den and living room, in the kitchen and in closets. At Christmas time, we empty a couple of high cabinets and put out baskets and seasonal reads. We have many picture books about Baby Jesus, Santa Claus and snow. We have pop-up books and easy readers and beautifully illustrated picture books that get read at this time each year, preferably by a blazing fire!

However, in the past few years I’ve realized that Christmasy reading doesn’t have to be a contained in a 32 page hardback about a reindeer with a red nose, which is why I’ve compiled this list of chapter books perfect for cozy December nights. Several of them would be great to read aloud to kiddos, others are intended for adults. Without further adieu, I give you 8 Christmasy Titles to Put You in the Spirit. :)

1. The Coat-hanger Christmas Tree by Eleanor Estes

I have been an avid Estes fan since I was a wee lassie. I cannot exactly explain why I love her books so much. There’s something special about them. I think it’s the way she wrote real life into her children’s books without being preachy, dramatic or dull. They’re just great. I didn’t read The Coat-hanger Christmas Tree until I was a young adult, and it will never replace Ginger Pye in my heart, but I did really like it. In the New England based tale, ten-year-old Marianna desperately wants a Christmas tree but her mother refuses to be “like every tom-dick-and-harry.” As we know, kids find their own ways of doing things, hence the Christmas tree made of coat-hangers. Sadly, this gem is out of print, but I know you could find yourself a copy. You can do it!

2. The True Saint Nicolas: Why He Matters by William Bennett

This title was new to me last year, but I gobbled it up in time to lend it to my grandmother when we saw her for Christmas. She and I both agree, it’s a fascinating little book! If you’re like me, you’ve heard of Santa Claus/Old Saint Nick/Father Christmas your whole life and had some random ideas of who these mythical characters came from, but no clear story in your mind. This book quickly covers the real person named Saint Nicolas, the myths and legends about him, the other mythical characters who have been combined with Saint Nicolas over the years and the origin of our modern “Santa Claus” traditions, such as why he leaves gifts in our stockings, etc. Mostly it’s just interesting and super fun. It made me excited for Christmas and for teaching my little siblings about a real man who exemplified the true meaning of Christmas many a year ago.


3. Christmas with Anne by L. M. Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery, Christmas…how could you go wrong? This little collection of stories features our beloved Anne-with-an-E in her tale of puffed sleeves (real Anne fans could never forget that one) and fifteen other heartwarming, holiday tales. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the entire book yet, but I know it will be delightful. Montgomery’s eloquence set in P.E.I. during Christmastide will make me throw another log on the fire, I’m sure.

4. Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien

Didn’t know Tolkien wrote a Christmas book, did ya? Well, he kind of did, at least. This lovely book is a compilation of letters Tolkien’s children received in the mail every December “from Father Christmas.” The letters detail life at The North Pole, the life and work of the author (Santa) and included original artwork. If you get this book, you will love Christmas a little bit more. And maybe wish Tolkien was your dad.


5. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

Ann’s long time love of the Advent season finally bore a book last year! If you’ve followed her Advent devotional in the past, you are familiar with the stunning way she weaves the entire love story (Bible) into Christmas. Her writings completely changed how I view Jesus’ genealogy (it actually matters-a lot!) and the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Grab a copy early and work your way through the season. You won’t regret it.

6. The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L’engle

You know her from A Wrinkle in Time and some really deep theological books, but you might not know that she penned a winter’s tale as well! In this little book (complete with twenty-four short chapters) the Austin family lets you in on their holiday traditions each day of Advent. There’s a lose, sweet plot happening all along. The ending may make you sigh with joy. Maybe.

7. A Quiet Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott

I’ll read anything by Alcott. She’s my literary heroine. This is a short story by Alcott which I enjoyed when I was younger but would probably bawl through today, simply because it’s about a girl who needs a family. Patty cannot bear another day in the orphanage. Even after a family finally does come for Patty, it is only because they need a servant. But there is one person who does care about Patty! Will Patty find her family in time for Christmas?! I especially enjoy reading about the origin of this story: “The young Lukens girls had written to Miss Alcott telling her that they were so inspired by the examples of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, that they, too, were launching their own literary publication.Soon the Lukens girls received a very special gift-a Christmas story from Miss Alcott about a lonely orphan girl who finds a family to love her. Following its publication, the story stayed in an old magazine until many years later, a reader chanced upon it.” (From Amazon) Kate’s Choice is another very sweet Christmas tale by Alcott.

8. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

If you’ve never read this before, you need to get yourself a cute little copy like mine and get to it! It’s a very un-intimidating read. You may know the story from various plays or picture books or (heaven forbid) Mickey Mouse movies, but Dickens wasn’t just a story teller, he was a writer. You must read it in his own words at least once. It has some fantastic little quotes. It definitely touched my heart!

What books do YOU love to read at this time of the year? Share in the comments!

home again

view from home
I love the beach. I look forward to our week there all year long. We just got back yesterday after what seemed like a genuine road trip. As much as I love Galveston Island, I love coming home almost as much. Galveston is a gritty little piece of land, but it holds many of my happy memories. The week was spent just as a vacation should be spent—reading, relaxing, talking, playing in the sand. Despite some weather-related set-backs, we had a lovely time. The week practically zoomed.

I was so elated to be home, however, that I snapped a few pictures of my room with my phone. I love the view from my room. Leafy and bright. I love my curtains and my balcony and the sound of our birds.

IMG_0284My favorite blanket. The little paperweight-bird that tells me home is where my story begins, my typewriter, my bookcase. All reasons I love being in my own room (not to mention it being my own and slightly more private than the room I shared in our beach house.) Mostly I just love being where I’m comfortable. I love being home.

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” –Anne of Avonlea

I think often of that scene from the 1994 Little Women in which Marmee is braiding Jo’s hair while Jo clutches the bedpost and bemoans her own lack of direction. She says she loves home, but can’t stand to stay. I feel that way sometimes. In the story, Jo moves off to New York to become a tutor while she writes. This works out splendidly for her. She meets her husband, gets published, they kiss under the umbrella etc. etc.

Though I have long compared myself to the iconic character of Jo March and measured my own life by “where I am” in hers, I doubt I’d have such luck in moving to New York and becoming a tutor, but I am most definitely in that chapter now. The hair-braiding, bed-clinging, “what am I supposed to do with myself?” asks the whiny writer chapter. The important thing to remember, however, is that I am not Jo March. I’m Everly Pleasant (or someone claiming to have such a name…)

Home is my most comfortable place. It’s my favorite place to please myself. That doesn’t mean it’s the best place for me. I don’t know. Sometimes I think I’d like to have a place of my own. Sometimes I wish I was engaged. Then at least I’d know what my ticket out of this chapter would be. Yet here I am, at Eyrie Park for another year. I was thirteen when I moved here. I’ve seen it change and I’ve seen things stay the same for a long, long time. I still think of the trees we’ve cut down. The picnic tree, the tree I planted and other trees that have sentimental meanings to me. I sometimes think I could never, ever leave this place. Other times I know I must someday go.


I can’t imagine ever being so happy as I was growing up in this place, and that scares me. Just like I can’t imagine loving a husband as much as I love my family. I worry that I’ll leave and be unhappy and lonely. I worry that I’ll never leave and stop being content. I worry that I already have. And then I go on a week-long trip and I’m dying to be back in this room…


I wish this was the kind of post that had some conclusion and tweet-able lines and pinterest-worthy images. I wish that this was something that would go viral and change lives, but I’m not having a life-changing day. I’m having a sitting at home, nothing splendid, string of pearls kind of day. I love home, I always will, but I’ve made my home in nine or ten different houses and apartments. I’ve made my home in a family of five and a family of a however-many-of-us-there-are-now. Rented houses, 3rd-world apartments, Victorian mansions, ranch houses, an RV, we’ve done it all and wound up at Eyrie Park, a place I’ll always treasure. But I can’t store up my treasure at Eyrie Park and I can’t get stuck thinking that all my happiness comes from these walls. I’ve got to love where I am, but I also have to have open hands.

And that’s really all I’ve been trying to say. I’m glad to be home. I’m glad I left so I could return. I’m glad we got our week in Galveston (pictures later, maybe?) I’m glad God has my future in His hands, even when I’m blind and lame and prone to worry. He has been very, very good.


mourning summer

I do believe I’m done mourning Summer. 
I must let it pass.
I must let it be buried under the leaves of a new season.
Join me in welcoming Autumn!
Join me in quoting the great Dr. Seuss who said:
“Do not cry because it is over,
Smile because it happened.”
And the lovely George Eliot who spake thus:

“Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it! If I were a bird, I’d fly around the world seeking the successive Autumns.”

And dear ol’ L. M. Montgomery who wrote in one of her books:
“Why did dusk and fir-scent and the afterglow of autumnal sunsets make people say absurd things?”

The only absurd thing I can imagine saying is, “Stay, Summer! Stay!” Don’t we know that we only gain that which we let go?

p.s. if any of you have a chance to visit the north east during this time of year, please do not tell me. I might have to cry.
(painting by Claude Monet)

a potentially real post

Has it really been as long as it feels since I’ve sat down and written a “real post”? Ages?
I’ve had lots of thoughts, no doubt, but not the time or bravery to type them up and stick them here. I also have had waves of fear about Clickety-Clack. Blogs perch on the fine line between wonderful and terribly self-centered, you know.
I’m sitting on my bed, a few pieces of clothing sitting here with me, my stuffed dog and a catalog of things I’ll never buy. Alcott has a few finished “thank you” cards on it and a lot of blank ones, a bouquet of roses from the party and two trash bags full of paper pom-poms leaning against the chair. What to do with those…?
Tonight I finally watched (for the first time in entirety) the Anne of Green Gables movie. Some long-time readers may recall the beginning of this plight and laugh at how long it has taken me, but there have been reasons.  First of all, you can’t just go to Walmart and buy and it on DVD, you have to order it on Amazon or something, so I waited and asked for it for Christmas. Once I got it, a few friends and sisters and I decided to have an Anne party and watch it all together. So we did this, months and months ago. However, we didn’t have time to watch the whole thing. As a matter of fact, we watched half of it, but never flipped the disk! So tonight, we watched it all the way through, and my, do I love it! It was so sweet, and cute, and funny and inspirational! Oh dear…I love that story so much.
Now I just have to try to get my hands on a copy of Anne of Avonlea on DVD. Who knows when that will happen, but I’ll keep you posted!

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