All I want for Christmas is a book

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I crawled under the covers and hoped Keith would ignore the ice cube toes I inched closer to his leg.
Surely, he’s at least a tiny bit awake, I thought.
I couldn’t help myself. I poked him.
“What did you get me for Christmas?” I whispered.
Hmmph?
We are buying each other just one inexpensive gift to open this year and I’m just as eager to get it as I was my Velvet hair-grow doll in 1970.
“What did you get me for Christmas!”
Nothing. Go to sleep, came the muffled, yet miffed, response.
Better be a book. “I’ll bet it’s a book,” I thought. I mean, I gave him my Barnes & Noble membership card when he went shopping, how much more of a hint does a guy need?
I do a lot of gift shopping for all occasions in book stores, although my nonreading husband has yet to figure that out.
Other than the gift of time, love and friendship, the gift of a book is a never-ending present. It can teach, entertain, thrill and even transform.
My wish list. The book I wish I could give all of you this year is Pearl S. Buck’s Christmas Day in the Morning. It was originally published in 1955 in a collection of short stories and was republished in 2002 for the first time as an illustrated book for children.
If you don’t recognize the name, Pearl Buck penned nearly a hundred books for children and adults, and won both the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes. She may be best known for her book, The Good Earth, which was also just republished in September.
In Buck’s Christmas story, a teenage boy wants to get his father something special for Christmas this year – but it’s Christmas Eve, and he doesn’t have much money to spend. So he surprises his father on Christmas morning by getting up early and milking the cows on their farm.
The story is not just for farm folk; it illustrates the meaning of gifts from the heart, of gifts of love – the best gifts of all.
See if your local library has it, or check a local bookstore (at $16.99, it’s a little pricey, but this book lover thinks the investment is worth it). If you do find it, be sure to read the illustrator’s personal note at the beginning; it’s as touching as Buck’s story.
Off the radar. On Christmas Eve 1955, the commander in chief of the U.S. Continental Air Defense Command started getting some strange phone calls. It seems a local Colorado Springs store advertised a special Santa hotline, but the phone number was misprinted and instead gave the hotline for the defense command.
After finding out what was behind the calls, the director of operations, Col. Harry Shoup, had his staff check radar data to see if there was any trace of Santa, and the children who called were updated on Santa’s position.
This year, the command’s successor, NORAD, marks its 50th year of tracking Santa around the globe.
NORAD is the joint American and Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace defense of the United States and Canada.
Starting early in the morning of Dec. 24, NORAD will chart Santa’s path online at www.noradsanta.org, through radar and “SantaCams.” This year, the information is provided in six languages.
You can also call toll-free at 877-HINORAD to speak with a volunteer who will relay the information, too.
Last Christmas Eve, NORAD fielded more than 49,400 calls, 60,000 e-mails and a half billion hits on its Web site.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.
A Silent Night, Holy Night.

About the Author

Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell has been with the paper since 1985, serving as its editor since 1989. Raised on a farm in Holmes County, she is a graduate of Kent State University.You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scrowell and follow Farm and Dairy at http://twitter.com/farmanddairy. You can also find her on Google+ and Facebook. More Stories by Susan Crowell

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