The Real Twelve Days of Christmas: Celebrating in the Old-fashioned Way

It ain't over 'til it's over! Every year kids and adults build up a head of steam for the Christmas holidays. Then the magical day comes and goes too quickly, leaving scraps of wrapping paper and half-munched cookies all around the house, as well as the nagging feeling that someone special has been left off the greeting and gifting list.

Make Your Own Holiday Cards

You can create your very own cards to shine, sparkle, and spin. A quick trip to a craft store can net you a few things that can help you turn out beautiful and amazing holiday cards.

Katherine Paterson's Healing Words

Best known for her Newbery Award-winning books, Jacob Have I Loved, as well as Newbery Honor winner, The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson's very personal style of storytelling strikes nerves with her readers, who are able feel her characters' emotions, giving them practice for dealing with life's sorrows. What keeps her books from being simple studies in misery is her ability to find the humor and grace in any situation.

Nutcracker Sweets

On Christmas Eve, a young girl dreams her beloved toy comes to life. He becomes her Nutcracker Prince and dances his Clara through the land of sweets and defeats the wicked Mouse King. Perhaps you've seen the ballet-- it's so popular that many ballet schools make it their featured holiday production year after year. The music is amazing-- from the wild Russian dance to the slow and mysterious Arabian dance. It all flows together to create a magical night of exhilarating performances.

Orange You Glad It's January?

Oranges bring a warm sweetness to the dreariest winter day. They are full of good things: vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some oranges are used to make juice while others are eaten just as they are.

Where Do Oranges Come From?

When we think of oranges, we think of sunny places, such as Florida, California, Spain, and Brazil. But oranges were not originally (oranginally?) grown in those places. A long time ago, the first oranges grew wild in China and India. The word orange comes from a Sanskrit word--naranga. The first oranges to travel to Western countries about 1,000 years ago tasted sour. Five hundred years later, sweet oranges made their way to Europe.

Time to Get Popping

Popcorn was grown by Native Americans long before the Europeans came to the New World. The Aztecs used it, strung into garlands, in their religious ceremonies. Peruvians toasted and ate their popcorn, which was called pisancalla. During the 1830's, it was "discovered" by American farmers who, using a new kind of plow, planted acres and acres of it during the 1850s. By the turn of the 19th century, popcorn vendors could be found in every big city. They'd sell their wares by the bag or the ball and make a profit of about 70 cents on every dollar!

What Was Christmas Like During the Civil War?

Present-day Christmas conjures memories of snow, lighted trees, cinnamon, gifts, parties, and music. If we lived during the Civil War, what kinds of memories would we have? Would they be of family, food, warmth, and parties, or would they be of just trying to survive and stave off hunger? Would there be presents under the tree, or would we be happy just to be present with our loved ones. To learn a bit more about Christmas during the years 1861-1864, explore the items in the library and the Web sites listed below.

In the Library:

Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays

By Elaine Saint James

Go to catalog

"In Simplify Your Christmas, Elaine St. James offers more than a hundred simple ways to remove the stress and return the sacred to what should be the most joyous of holidays. Packed with intelligent insights and plain common sense, these brief, easy-to-read essays will help you escape the unnecessary nonsense you've wanted to escape, and turn the holidays back into a time to anticipate and remember."

Reserve this title

A Christmas Story

By Jean Shepherd

Go to catalog

These stories formed the basis of the holiday movie classic, A Christmas Story:

Duel in the snow, or, Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid -- The Counterfeit Secret Circle member gets the message, or, The asp strikes again -- My old man and the lascivious special award that heralded the birth of pop art -- Grover Dill and the Tasmanian devil -- The grandstand passion play of Delbert and the Bumpus hounds.

Reserve this title

The Homecoming

By Earl Hamner

Go to catalog

On Christmas Eve, Clay Spencer has not returned home. His eldest son, Clay-boy, goes looking for him in the snowy Virginia hills. Ladylike bootleggers, a lesson in race relations, and the hazards of nature are all a part of his journey. Earl Hamner's original story launched The Waltons television series. This entry leads to the large print edition, but a regular print edition is available as is The Walton's Homecoming video.

Reserve this title