If you’re like me, you were over the “doorbuster savings” and “great holiday deals” about five minutes after the Thanksgiving turkey was cleared off the table.
Face it, gift-giving is hard. Is it the right size/style/color? Will he like it? Does it go with the color of the walls in the living room? Maybe I should get a gift receipt, just in case.
I’ve lived through a fair number of Christmases and birthdays, and gotten a lot of gifts – some good, some, well, not so good. But in looking back, it strikes me that some of the best gifts didn’t come in boxes. They were invisible treasures, things that stuck with me my entire life.
And one of the best gifts was a love of reading.
I’ve been reading since, oh, the womb? Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read. I have bedraggled copies of Madeline, and Beatrix Potter that clearly show I’ve been reading longer than I’ve been doing almost anything else. When I disappeared at holiday meals, my parents knew where to find me: I was curled up with a book (and headphones, as I got older). Family vacation? I traveled in the back of the station wagon with the luggage – and a book.
I very clearly remember receiving my very first “adult” mystery for a Christmas gift – Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Twelve people, plus Poirot and the victim, stuck on a train, in the snow, and… wait a minute? Really? REALLY?
From that point on, I was hooked on whodunit. Mysteries, thrillers, suspense. I still am. Oh, I read widely then, and I read widely now. But there is no doubt that one, seemingly minor gift – the love of the written word – has made me the person, the writer, I am today.
I’ve managed to give this gift to my daughter. My son embraced it a little later in life, but I think he might be growing into it. It’s really a gift without price, and of immense value. We might not all be able to travel the world, or go into space, and we certainly can’t experience first-hand the grandeur of Camelot or Victorian England. But we can all crack a book, and for a little while at least, all these things are ours.
So this Christmas, when you’re shopping for that perfect gift, check out your local bookstore. There be treasure there. The book you buy this Christmas just might make a huge difference in someone’s life.
And besides, who needs another ugly sweater?