Tuesday Slice of Life is enjoyed at the Two Writing Teachers blog, with Stacey and Ruth.
This time of year no matter what holiday we celebrate brings back memories, not always good, but mostly warm tender memories of times gone by. Charles Dickens said it best in The Pickwick Papers: Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! I feel blessed that I had wonderful grandparents well into my adult life, and my numerous connections to them are an important part of who I am. One of those connections has to do with being a passionate reader, and some of my earliest memories begin with a grandfather reading to me, which leads me to Christmas, which leads me to one of our favorite activities, reading the funnies!
I wonder if you remember some of the first books you read, or were read to you, about Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, or? I have spoken before of my childhood when I lived with my maternal grandparents in a little town in Missouri. A favorite memory is my grandfather reading the comics to me from the Kansas City Star, and in those comics were The Adventures of Cuddles and Tuckie. One Christmas time, the author, Frances Royster Williams, wrote quite an adventure that detailed the plight of Santa whose reindeer had been attacked by a wolf, so ran away to the icy Northland mountains. Santa needed help, and called on the White King of the magic white deer herd who had led the reindeer away. Within this series that began as radio broadcasts, part of the verse imagined that a couple of children might help, and according to a Missouri Historical Society article, hundreds of children wrote in with their advice to help Santa find the reindeer so he could deliver all his toys. In the story, Cuddles and Tuckie were asked to ride White King to help bring the reindeer back. And you can read about the rest of the adventures, see the story in verse and the beautiful illustrations here.
There is something magical about this story that made me remember. Part of it is the specialness of my relationship with my grandfather plus our reading together, and the other part is helping me understand and imagine what might happen next. We had a hard time waiting each day for the next episode, and this must have been my introduction to fantasy, a love that has continued all my life. In 1972, Hallmark published a little memento book of this adventure. I discovered it, and it has been a part of our Christmas bookshelf since, and I’ve read it to my children and now grandchildren every year. At the opening of the book, it reads Hope your Christmas is as jolly as Santa is, by golly! I could write no better wish for you, my writing friends!