January 9, 2011

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Are Books the New Orange?

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Well folks, it is snowing like a son-of-a-gun out there today. This snow, we could have used it a couple of weeks ago to get us in the holiday spirit. Now I'm not a big fan. It does make me think of the last Christmas and something I was ruminating over.

When I was a kid, Santa always put an orange in my stocking. I would think, "Santa, what gives? We got a bunch of these in the fridge." But every year the orange would appear, right down in the toe. Maybe Santa wanted to fill that sock up (cheaply) or Santa was thinking of his own Christmases back in the day when an orange was a Big Deal. Nowadays Santa skips the orange.

My girl always gets books from us at Christmas. Yes us, not Santa. We give books and clothes at this house. My daughter likes books, don't get me wrong, but it pains me a little that she doesn't react to books the way I did at Christmas. It's true that my brothers and I had lots of picture books at our house and the library was visited every two weeks. But as I got older, owning 'older' books was a rare thing. I remember saving up for Sweet Valley High books and then spending an agonizing amount of time deciding which one to buy. When I got books at Christmas, and I always did, I would spend hours reading them and then hours re-reading them. I'd stare at the covers and proudly line them on my shelf. I still own many of those books: Little Women, Tales of Mystery from Edgar Allan Poe, The Endless Steppe.

Maybe I liked them so much because they were a rare treat. Now, since I'm a book lover, I buy books for my daughter all the time. At book sales. From the school. From the book store. Everywhere and all the time. Her bookshelves are a fridge full of oranges.

Though I recognize that what made a book so special to me as a child was its rarity, I still can't keep myself from bringing them home. I can't deny my girl a book. But I wish my girl could see them through my own younger self's eyes.

10 comments :

  1. You know what, I never thought of that. I would always get books as presents when I was younger and would love it.
    I can understand that the lack of excitement pains you.
    I always get books for the kids I know, but most of the time, I'm not there when they open them, so I can't see their reaction. I just wish I would have more occasions to read those books to them...

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  2. I didn't get a lot of books growing up either. It was only when I had my own money to spend that my collection started to grow. I still get excited when people take my book obsession into account for the holidays and I still agonize over my spending (I still haven't decided what to buy with my gift cards from Christmas...). But, when I buy books for my friends kids none of them seem to care. They never get read and sit on the shelves sadly... It has been something that really bothers me. But maybe just times are different...

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  3. I understand exactly what you mean. I loved books as a child too and got very few of them as presents. My parents bought me no books as they felt the library was available and why would you buy something you could get for free. They had no idea of my "need" to own books. Well, I grew up and got past all that. I own hundreds and hundreds of books. I gave them to my daughter as well, like you, and I'm still the aunt that always gives a book to nieces and nephews. Got pretty much the same reaction as you and I also managed to raise a girl who likes to read occasionally, but it's not a vital need for her.

    My dad, who did not buy me books, had the same orange story. His family was poor and they got an orange for Christmas (and that was all some years). I hate oranges - always have. Just didn't see the excitement about an orange in the stocking.

    Great analogy.

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  4. I didn't get a lot of books growing up... I don't think. I read A LOT, so if there was a book lying around I would read it. We did make weekly trips to the book store but I was limited on how many books I could get.

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  5. My kids react the same way. Rocketgirl gets excited about them occasionally (especially if there's a hot guy on the cover) but for the most part it's a subdued reaction.

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  6. what an interesting analogy!

    Maybe she's subtle on her excitement (and seems to take the books for granted), but will remember favorites as she grows. The test will come when you're cleaning off the bookcase - see which books she won't part with.

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  7. my family was never a big BUYING family, so we never did get tons of books for holidays. And it's only been since I've been book blogging that I've developed this obsession with OWNING books. We have always loved libraries, I guess!

    I only got one book for Christmas, for example, other than a few I got myself on a gift card I had. That's a rarity for book bloggers, I'm seeing!

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  8. Growing up I received tons of books for Christmas, my birthday, and Easter. My mom totally changed the way I look at Easter. Every year she would fill my basket up with tons of Baby-Sitters Club books and some candy. I didn't need the candy, just the books. I guess I'm pretty lucky that way.

    Luckily for me is that my kids are excited about getting books for Christmas and other holidays. I usually have them come up with a wish list and pick from there.

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  9. I was always super excited to get books as gifts when I was a kid. We had a lot of children's books owned in common (among my sisters) but to have my very own "chapter book" was something special. Now my own daughter has on her shelf all my old picture books plus many new ones I gather for her, and she's also got access to the chapter-books on my shelf. She doesn't get thrilled over books as presents, but still wants to read them all. I think you're right, it's the rarity that made it so precious.

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