Don't you just love this time of year with all its little traditions stirring up nostalgia and magic; the excitement and anticipation almost tangible. After this challenging year, I certainly for one, welcome these familiarities with open arms, to provide us with a little bit of comfort and joy.
My personal favourite is the build up to Christmas. The days are getting colder and the inside just a bit more cosy with hot chocolate, lights and candles. The advent calendar, the same familiar, but still so special ornaments carefully unwrapped and hung on the tree. The smell of biscuits baking and home made potpourri filling the house. Listening to retro Christmas albums and favourite books.
We keep our Christmas stories in a wooden crate by the staircase all year long, until the start of December. The fact that they have been passed by daily, seemingly unnoticed for 11 months, makes it more special when we get them out again at Christmas time. The boys greet them with the same enthusiasm and excitement as the first time they discovered them. They treat them like long lost treasures and can't contain their joy or possibly choose JUST ONE.
We have some best-loved stories which include The Snowman and Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs and Chris van Allsburg's The Polar Express but each of us have an absolute favourite.
Christmas is Coming! An Advent Book. Beautifully illustrated by Katie Hickey is a wonderful book full of activities, recipes and stories.
Christmas in Exeter Street by Diana Hendry and John Lawrence is a lovely story that captures the spirit of Christmas so beautifully with a house bursting out of its seams with guests on Christmas Eve. It even has a baby sleeping in the kitchen sink.
The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy and illustrated by Emily Sutton is a timeless story about a crooked fir tree, the only one left in a shop, found by a boy who doesn't mind that it is not as straight as the others.
Katherine Rundell's One Christmas Wish. A lonely boy makes a wish on Christmas Eve. A story about wishing with your whole heart and the magic of Christmas.
The boys love the illustrations by Jane Ray so her versions of both The Twelve Days of Christmas (which we always end up singing instead of reading) as well as The Nutcracker are popular at story time.
Christmas Eve at the Mellops by Tomi Ungerer is one of Guillaume's favourites. The four Mellops brothers each have the same idea - to surprise the family with a Christmas tree.
Pascal has a new favourite. The Crayons' Christmas by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers.
Reading The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore is always causing some giddiness and jumping on beds as we leave it for Christmas Eve. We have read it on other days on the odd occasion, but I always try.
Do you have any favourite Christmas stories? Please share them with us.