On being “real”
The Christmas holidays remind me most of being a little girl. My sister and I waking up to full stockings that our mother had sewn little cats on, hanging on our retro electric fireplace.
My aunt always gifted us books. Oh, how I looked forward to Aunt Mary’s books! They were always new, with a special inscription from her. The pages were glossy or rough, and they smelled like the printing press. Shiny hardback covers or paperbacks as we got older.
Now that I have a niece, I am always sure to gift her a book at Christmas and at her birthday. A lifetime of collected books are a treasured thing to look back on. As I do this, this holiday season, I see my very life play out before me.
Here’s The Polar Express, when I still believed in Santa Claus. And Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus for the year that came when I didn’t. Practical Magic when I was a teenager and starting to read adult novels. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when my aunt thought I could use a trip back to childhood magic. And of course, The Velveteen Rabbit, when I had a pet bunny named Violet.
The Velveteen Rabbit is told by the Skin Horse that when you are truly loved, not just played with, you become real. Like the beloved Skin Horse, many of my childhood books are well past worn and broken in. With weak bindings and bent pages and scratches on the covers.
It is in this way so many of these books have become real to me – part of my own life, or part of my way of thinking or beliefs. These books and so many others have become like trusted friends, ones I return to over and over for guidance or advice or simply the memories.
Happy holidays and happy reading!