Tuesday, December 10, 2013

That Christmas Wonder called Believing

In my bookcase there sits a worn and tattered copy of this 1957 Ideals Publishing Company's Christmas story, "Jolly Old Santa Claus." Some of the pages are ripped; some held together by tape; some have crayon scribbles on them. My children loved this book when they were growing up. It wasn't because of the story. I can't remember us reading the story. It was the amazing illustrations by George Hinke that kept us going from page to page-night after night before Santa came to fill stockings, eat cookies and drink a glass of milk, pick up penciled letters filled with Christmas wishes, and leave a few special gifts under the tree.

Sitting on the sofa in their pajamas as snow fell and popcorn popped, each page turned became a journey into that Wonder called Believing. Details were executed magnificently-with Mrs. Claus patting the dough before rolling it out on the old wooden table-and elves carrying trays of cookies to and from the small, brick ovens. Santa's workshop drew them in to the hustle and bustle of last minute preparations-from painting to nailing to packing a certain oversized sack for a long night's journey. They were in awe of elves blowing glass ornaments and firing them in the ovens. They took note of Santa sitting back in his chair reading letters as elves brought in more and more sacs overflowing with even more letters. "Does Santa read them all?" they'd ask.

They could almost feel the cold when Santa and his elves were in the woods after Christmas trees. They'd really get excited when Santa was preparing to climb aboard that amazing sleigh as reindeer were being hitched and the sleigh loaded down with gifts-so many gifts and so many elves helping. Of course what made those pages magical were the little hands turning them and little voices asking questions and their laughing with eyes full of Christmas magic. (That's the sort of Magic a parent notices.)

Now as I look at Mr. Hinke's illustrations I am struck by the fact that none were computer generated. Obviously there were no computers back then and that's what makes them so very Wondrous-perfect for little imaginations to curl up on the sofa with-in their pajamas-and a bowl of popcorn as Christmas nears and pages are turned.


  1. I was right there on that sofa with you! Your posts about Christmas are so like the Christmases I remember!

    1. And how amazing those Christmases were! Aren't we the lucky ones!