Would it be a shock to know that many of the items on my Christmas list were books…? And that I spent a portion of my Christmas Day…before the trips to families’ houses, the feasting, and the merriment…curled up in my pajamas reading first chapters, skimming tables of contents, and, in general, fawning over my new books and journals, some of which are lovingly pictured above.
Except for The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry van Dyke…that is not a new acquisition but a book I discovered in a box or attic when I was just twelve or thirteen and that has stayed with me always. It is, by far, one of my favorite Christmas stories. A short novella and magical in everything from description to the tale it tells, I sat and read it from beginning to end today, instead of going to Christmas Mass. I did not regret my choice. Its rendition of the Christmas story left me in tears.
I am grateful that on this holy day I am surrounded not just by family and love, but by books. They are friends and treasures. And it makes perfect sense that the Christmas message…many messages, in fact…should come to a writer bound and printed.
But it is better to follow even the shadow of the best than to remain content with the worst. And those who would see wonderful things must often be ready to travel alone.
~ Henry van Dyke in The Story of the Other Wise Man