Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mother figures out there–biological and adoptive moms; teachers/counselors; fur-baby-moms (me!); and anyone who’s ever loved someone in a nurturing way.

I’d like to wish a special Mother’s Day to my own mom. I’m blessed to have such a strong, loving, kind role model in my life, let alone to call her my mother. She’s always taught my sister and me that we should reach for our dreams and determine our own lives, never letting someone or something else hold us back. More than anyone else, she’s taught me how to treat others with kindness, even if it’s difficult. (Please read this poem for one of my defining memories with my mother from childhood.) Over the years, my mom has never stopped being my mother, but now I’m lucky to call her my friend, too.

Here are a couple of pictures from about a month ago, when my mom and I went to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show together. Gardening is something we’ve dabbled with (her, much more than me!) together since I was little. We had so much fun learning about pollination and edible gardens, but what was most fun was the time we spent together. 🙂 ❤

I am also blessed to be a mom to this precious baby:

Cuddle time with Oreo ❤

and this one in Heaven:

Smooches with Chad ❤

Our Mother’s Day this year was pretty laid-back. My mom is an AMAZING cook, but today, she got a break from the kitchen, as the rest of us pitched in for meals. 🙂 We enjoyed spending time together; giving cards and gifts; and watching some Game of Thrones. Jennifer and I have a pedicure booked for our mom next week, when salons will be a bit less crazy, hopefully. 😉

Also, something I’ve been aware of this year especially is that this can be a hard holiday for some people. A radio station posted this on Facebook, and I think it expresses sympathy and comfort perfectly:

And finally, to end this on an upbeat note…Buzzfeed posted this excellent list of “19 Badass Literary Mothers Who Need to be Celebrated.” Well, the title pretty much sums it up–and I must say, I agree with as much of the list as I’m familiar with–and like yesterday’s list, it’s added more to my ever-growing “To Be Read” list. 🙂 Molly Weasley of Harry Potter and Catelyn Stark of Game of Thrones top the list–check it out!

Changes

*blows dust off of blog*

Hello, dear readers! Oh, how I’ve missed you. I’ve finally screwed up the courage to post here, after months of hemming and hawing over what I should say. It seems so much has changed in so little time, and I’m still catching my balance. Finally, I decided it’s too embarrassing to be a writer who can’t find the words to say what she needs to say, so I’ve decided just to do my best in a usual ramble. 😉

So, in recent history, I turned 29. My sister threw an amazing surprise golden birthday party for me, and it was more than I ever imagined. I told my sister I’d been planning it–like a wedding–since I was a little girl. When I was young, I imagined I’d host a grand party in my mansion or maybe a castle (seriously), wearing a beautiful golden dress, surrounded by husband, children, parents, friends, loved ones, and stacks of my own best-selling novels.

Well…I did find the dress, which I shopped for without having any plans of my own–lacking said mansion, husband, and children–and, most importantly, lacking inspiration for this life-changing moment. I just knew I had to find one, even if it meant sitting at home, wearing it by myself–it was the one part of my vision of turning 29 I could keep. Finding “the dress” had as much tribulation as what “the dress” usually means (wedding!), but I found it, after months of searching, on *clearance* at Bloomingdale’s…the only one of its kind! Gold, hand-beaded, retro design. It was like a dream.

But the dress is the least interesting part of the party! Jennifer really blew me away with all of the thoughtful touches. She invited all of my loved ones, most of whom were able to make it. She served all my favorite foods, right down to pretzel rolls for the sandwiches and fudge-covered caramel apples, which she burned herself making from scratch. ❤ ❤ I felt so surrounded by love and joy; it was overwhelming.

Me, wearing “the dress,” holding some of the gold balloons Jennifer decorated my party with. 🙂 I’m also wearing the Kate Spade necklace our friend Ashley got me–matching the party’s gold Kate Spade theme. ❤

Turning 29 was a momentous occasion for my life–I’d set goals for myself when I was young, a list that had gotten longer over the years. The timing was highly reflective for me: it was also the 9-year anniversary of my brain injury/Miracle DayIt was also the same timing I traveled to Colorado to visit Lindsey, which was a totally new experience for me–with a combination of nature, good friends, and adventure, it provided for a lot of introspection–which travel tends to do for me–that’s probably why my soul needs it so much. 🙂

There’s no easy way to say this: I realized my relationship with Jeremiah wasn’t where or what I wanted or needed it to be. I realized we’d grown in different directions, that things had changed and couldn’t change back. The realization was sudden, but I realized it had been building within me for a long time.
But we’re still friends. I’m so grateful for that. And I’m so grateful for the loved ones helping us both through this transition.

I’ve had to “forgive” myself for being a different 29-year-old than I’d imagined. First drafts aren’t what gets published in the end, right? 😉 I suspect I’ve quoted this favorite before: “We plan, and God laughs.” I am blessed to have the life that I do. Even if I haven’t yet hit the “milestones” I thought I would have, I love the path my life has taken. I am grateful for so many things I never expected to have–my career, my writing, my loved ones, my furry babies, even my health.

It’s been a crazy year of change, of love and loss, of tragedy and joy. Of finding myself in new places. Of taking risks that made a difference.

And I wouldn’t change a single minute. It’s all made me who I am.

I think that’s what I wanted to say, dear readers, in the end. Thanks for bearing with me. I’m backed up on lots of news to share–I just participated in and helped to plan a LITERARY FESTIVAL last weekend, for instance–but I had to say this first.

Oh, and another thing I’m grateful for–you. ❤

Stay tuned for more posts soon. And if you don’t hear from me before then–Happy Valentine’s Day. (Jell-Jell is all decked out for the holiday in my avatar–thanks to Jennifer!) Even if you don’t have a romantic partner, I urge you to go celebrate love with other loved ones. That’s what I’m doing. 🙂 ❤

Reflections: Travel and Fantasy as Lenses for Real Life

Hello, dear readers! So much has happened in the weeks since my last post. In fact, this calls for a list. In the last five weeks:

  • I have been traveling for three of them
    • Six foreign countries for two weeks
    • Northeastern U.S.A. for one week
  • In between that travel–a friend died, suddenly 😦
  • I found out one of my best friends of 20 years, Lindsey, is moving to Colorado a week from Saturday—a possibility I did not want to face
  • I was asked to be in a wedding
  • I’ve been very sick twice
  • I assisted with my sister’s huge Disney-themed surprise birthday party, dressed as a feverish strep-throated Rapunzel
  • I’ve written–a lot

Each of these bullet points deserves at least one post of its own; life has been a whirlwind of good and bad lately. I’m struck by all the extremes and opposites I’ve been experiencing, as if life is off-kilter and trying to correct itself, swinging wildly side to side. I’ve been disoriented, honestly, never quite having enough time to process any one thing before the next occurred. I was thankful to have my fiction and travel to escape into–or so I thought.

It felt like escape, whisking myself away into unknown lands, real or fictional. I wasn’t running away, per se–it was all scheduled, hours-off-earned, wages saved. But it sure did feel nice to leave the stresses of the everyday behind. I am grateful for the life I have, but even the most beautiful lives earn stress–I think it’s automatic when you join with people and activities you care about. 😉

Through it all, I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote scores of pages for my novel; I wrote whimsical poetry; I wrote a eulogy. Somehow, writing kept my life stitched together, all these crazy layers that didn’t match.

I had an epiphany today, reflecting on what to write for this blog post, as my blog is part of returning to my normal life. I realized that these “escapes”–travel, fantasy–they are just lenses of the everyday. My memoir teacher, who is also a travel writing teacher, told me that people find themselves when they travel. “That’s bizarre,” I thought–I’ve been traveling all my life, and I’d never noticed that. But now, after more than twenty years of it, I’ve finally experienced what she meant. It crept up on me, flowed through me, like the waves that were a part of all those three weeks away: a certain peace that came from knowing that life was not, in fact, falling apart; that every footstep was new and full of possibility; that the world was much, much bigger than me. It was a relief to walk on millenia-old pathways to find destinations at once ancient and new to me; and in this way, in this ritual of one foot in front of the other, I remembered old paths can be made new again. Even though I treasure words for expression, I find this concept difficult to describe–it is a feeling so deep within me that I can’t unwind it and pull it out. Suffice it to say, I found travel made me stronger, despite–or maybe because of–kayak and hiking blisters and scrapes–stronger in my knowledge of who I am, how I feel, and how I navigate life.

I’m almost done with this abstract post, I promise. 😉 My last point is the other lense: fantasy. I believe I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but to me, fantasy is just reality dressed-up. I think it’s harder for us to stare difficult truths in the face than it is to disguise them in whimsy and impossibilities. (This is part of the fun I have in cosplay–it’s a disguise of truth, emphasizing chosen personality aspects in a visual way.) So–it’s easier for us to understand ourselves when we’re reading about people and places that aren’t ours–we don’t put up defenses, because why would we defend something we don’t know? And in that openness, we learn truths we can apply to our own lives.

Perhaps this is a little dense for the hour–so I shall end the post here, for now. I hope to expound upon some of those bullet points more soon, in future points. And if my tone seemed melancholy, I didn’t mean it–I am feeling more awestruck and full of wonder than anything else. This world, this life is beautiful; we only have one, whatever else we make up in our minds–and this span of time has only reinforced the idea, for me, that we must treasure every day, every love, every adventure, every second, as much as possible.

My Valentine’s Day Surprises

Hello, dear readers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a lovely Valentine’s Day. 🙂

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to tell you a little bit about my Valentine’s Day this year.

Ever since my TBI, I’ve had a “carpe diem” view of life. This means I get very excited about all celebrations and I plan all details long in advance. Although, to be fair, I’ve always been excited for celebrations. 😉

That’s one side of it. The other side of it is when things don’t go exactly as planned, I can get majorly disappointed at what I see as a missed opportunity. It’s not exactly the best thing, and I’ve been working on this over the years, trying to take a more “jelly-side up” view. I heard a phrase once that really stuck with me: “We plan, and God laughs.” So true! I’ve realized that things aren’t always meant to happen as we plan them, but there is almost always some good that comes out of a situation. Sometimes, when things don’t go as planned, even better things are able to happen.

Needless to say, I certainly hadn’t planned on having bronchitis this Valentine’s Day. Jeremiah and I didn’t have anything enormous planned, although we did consider dinner/dancing/movie/trip options and made a schedule. However, it was apparent early in the week that it was not to be, because I was so sick. I hadn’t even left the house in over a week, so the plan–or so I thought–was a FaceTime date.

I got to start the day with another leading man in my life–my wonderful dad–who was kind enough to make another doctor appointment for me and chauffeur me there. Even though he pretended(?) to be grumpy about spending his whole day doing this, he made me laugh all the while, and he took really good care of me. It was a daddy-daughter date of doctor’s office; Panera for lunch; hospital for X-rays because I wasn’t getting well; and Costco for medicine. At least at Costco, they had an amazing array of samples, and as exhausted as I was, I felt up to the task at making the rounds to every single station. This is a favorite activity for our whole family, although my dad would never admit it. 😉
(Upon hearing I was doing this while sick, Jeremiah said to me, “The world could be ending, and you’d still be at Costco.” My response was, “If the world were ending, I would ESPECIALLY be at Costco. I’d need to stock up!” I mean, right?)

Then, my dad had the pleasure of helping me look through scores of flower planters on the shelves at Costco, so that we could pick the very best one. I’d wanted to get flowers for Jennifer for Valentine’s Day, anyway, and I was really happy to luck upon such a pretty option.

I dressed up the planter with ribbon and a homemade card…all materials I found in Jennifer’s impressive craft station in her room, which of course she immediately recognized, LOL (Happy Valentine’s Day to you…from you). I drew portraits of us as hearts–Jennifer on the left, me on the right–and used our self-appointed Frozen nicknames. Jennifer had made me a valentine, too, and she left it for me to see first thing when I woke up. 🙂

Jennifer and our parents had planned to go to Sweet Tomatoes for Valentine’s Day, and although they wanted to stay home with me, I insisted they keep their plans.

I also insisted that Jeremiah stay away, because I didn’t want to get him sick. Plus, I told him I just wanted to stay in my pajamas all evening. However, he wound up surprising me anyway, bringing me our favorite meals from Noodles & Co., a cookie for dessert, and these:

I was so touched by his thoughtfulness. It was simple enough not to be any fuss for me, and yet it was so many of my favorite things. He even came prepared with advice about a plot point in my novel I’d been struggling with. 🙂 And I got to stay in my pajamas, after all.

And so, dear readers, I keep learning that letting life happen is just as important as planning it out. FYI, I am slowly feeling better, finally! I hope you have a great week, and stay warm. 🙂

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Warming Up, Mom’s Birthday, & Top Ten: New Year’s Resolutions from Fictional Characters

Good evening, dear readers! I’m happy to report the temperature has been rising slowly, since my last post. Today, it reached a warm 16° F, which unleashed a carefree zeal in many drivers, to which my coworker commented, “It’s still below freezing, people…you’re still driving on ice.” Well, she was mostly right, except that sometimes, it was more spinning than driving. Luckily, I had my fabulous chauffeur driving me again, so my commute was carefree and chatty, even if he wasn’t. 😉

Tonight was my mom’s birthday–happy birthday, Mom! ❤ We celebrated with Lou Malnati’s deep dish veggie pizza (YUM) and tuxedo cake from Costco (DOUBLE YUM). We are extending the birthday celebration because we still don’t have her gifts yet (it is the curse of a birthday close to the holidays, as I suffer myself–although not as badly as her). We did give her cards tonight, though. After a full day of writing and editing, I really let loose with being verbose, to the extent that she was reading the outside of the card while I was still finishing the novella within:

Dear readers, can you believe it’s already been one week since the calendar page flipped over to 2013? Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions (or are you reconsidering the ones you did make)? I’m still forming mine–something about cleaning my room and office, as well as finishing writing a book or two. 😉
If resolutions like these seem too humdrum to you, how about those of our favorite epic literary characters? Barnes & Noble put together a clever list that some popular literary characters might have made in our modern society. Perhaps these will give you some ideas of your own. 😉

11 Fictional Characters’ New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by  × January 2, 2014 at 4:48 pm

New Year's champagne cork

It’s 2014! (Thankfully Aeon the aging time vulture didn’t kidnap the baby New Year.) As the light of the dawning new year hit your holidazed face, you might have been invigorated enough to make a few resolutions, varying in the degree to which you mean to keep them.

And you’re not alone! We’re all in the same boat, even your favorite fictional characters. We surveyed some literary titans, and here are a few of their goals for the bright, shiny new year:

Narrator (The Tell-Tale Heart)
“Find lodgings nearer to that yoga studio. More deep-breathing exercises. I must, I must!”

Dr. John Watson (The Complete Sherlock Holmes)
“Get that blasted leg wound sorted. Or was it a shoulder ailment? Bugger, I can’t remember. Holmes!”

Robert Baratheon (A Game of Thrones)
“Lose that pesky 10 pounds…bobbing about on Cersei’s shoulders. HA HA HA. You, mummer, bring me more prostitutes and wine! And that turkey leg.”

Thranduil (The Hobbit)
“Invest in home security system improvements.”

Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)
“Why, find new and inventive ways to mortally imperil my students, of course! Maybe lodging the sword of Gryffindor inside a giant talking spider, perhaps. Oh yes, that’s very good. Very good indeed, Alby.”

Rose of Sharon Joad-Rivers (The Grapes of Wrath)
“I’m bound to get an idear if I think long enough. Oh, I know, there’s that Groupon for the family therapy I figgered we should put to use. And I reckon I ought to write to that feller from the barn.”

Winnie the Pooh (The House at Pooh Corner)
“I would say I have to agree with Rabbit’s resa…reso…I agree with what Rabbit wants. Extremely. Undoubtably. Did he say he hoped to have more honey? Oh, well then I shall want to add that as well.”

Polonius (Hamlet)
“I plan to make time to get that shabby tapestry cleaned. Such filth, particularly on the back side, not that I would know what that looked like, of course…methinks that’s enough now.”

Rincewind (Discworld)
“No adventures. I resolve to have a nice, quiet, simple year with the Luggage. Absolutely no trifling about in dungeon dimensions or anything of the sort. Did you hear that? Um.”

White Rabbit (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
“Remember, remember, remember all my appointments. Day planner—a day planner, that’s the ticket!”

Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye)
“Resolutions are for phonies. And so are posthumous manuscript publications. Phonies. But I would like to find out where ducks go in the wintertime.”

What’s your resolution?

Christmas Snow Globe: A Reflection on Christmas Blessings

Good morning, dear readers! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I will share the details of my fabulous holiday soon (thank you loved ones for making it so), but today’s post is a reflection on my Christmas eight years ago.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Marianjoy held its annual Patient Christmas Party two weeks ago. It was lots of fun, including skits and carols. A coworker-friend of mine wrote a parody of the “Wassailing” song that we all performed; it was hilarious and went over really well. 🙂

We got to wear costumes if we wanted to, which of course means I did:

I dressed as an angel! My mom sewed the dress for me in high school, and my dad made the halo. I’ve worn the wings so many times they’re a little droopy. 😉

But the most special part of the event, for me, was the opening reflection. I asked our Spiritual Director if I could write a piece to share at the party, and she invited me to open the event.

As soon as we arranged it, I was intimidated. My mission was pure enough: I wanted to share some inspirational insights about hope at this time of year. No one *wants* to spend Christmas in a hospital–but if you look at it in a different way, it may be the most special Christmas you’ll ever have.

When I spent Christmas as an inpatient at Marianjoy eight years ago, it was such a unique experience. (I was discharged just a few days later.) I hadn’t planned it, of course, but it wasn’t cold or clinical–it was warm, friendly, encouraging, and full of love–all the things Christmas should be.

So I, the writer, the girl who is always talking, sat frozen at my keyboard for weeks, trying to think of how to put this into words. It was so important to me to get it right. Not only would my whole audience be experts on the subject, but the gift I wanted to give them was abstract and elusive, a long-shot: hope.

I must have gotten it at least a little right, because I had a lot of applause and people coming up to me afterwards thanking me for sharing it–patients, coworkers, the CEO, former therapists, nurses, and doctors. It was a terrific experience; better than I’d hoped for. 🙂

My writer’s block finally disappeared when I thought of the central image, which you can find in the title below. I hope you enjoy my speech. 🙂

“Christmas Snow Globe”
By: Amanda K. Fowler

Christmas in a hospital is kind of like a snow globe:

Frozen Snowglobe

(then I shook this snow globe, a Christmas present to Jennifer and me)

Your whole world is turned upside-down. You feel as if you’re suspended in a schedule of personal flurry, too busy with the rituals of therapy to notice that time is passing outside of your dome. And suddenly—it’s Christmas.

And—when you pause for a moment to catch your breath—you feel it. You’re not alone. You are surrounded by love and hope.

You might expect to hear something like this out of someone from the Marketing Department. But the way I really know this is I was a patient here myself eight years ago, due to a severe Traumatic Brain Injury that gave me only a 5% chance at survival.

When I came to Marianjoy, I was out of the danger zone, but I wasn’t back to myself, or back to my life. It was a transition, between nearly dying and nearly living. And I certainly hadn’t anticipated spending Christmas here.

For me, Christmas has always been about being home with family. But while I was here, I discovered a new family. I saw it in the compassionate faces of the therapists. I felt it in the healing touch of the doctors. I even tasted it, in the peppermint bark another patient had made for me, surprisingly—candy she guarded so closely that she gave my father strict instructions not to eat it before giving it to me. I guess she had a sixth sense about my father’s sweet tooth.

And I realized—I was spending Christmas here with my family, with this place that has become a home to me. It’s a family I have been blessed with, a gift I did not anticipate receiving that Christmas along with my life. Yes, Marianjoy is like a family to me—and, much like the in-laws who suggest staying after Christmas into New Year’s—they can’t get rid of me.

And so—I know this may not be how you planned to celebrate Christmas. But take it from someone who has been on this journey before: there is beauty all around you. In this snow globe—you are loved. There is hope here. We even asked for some fresh snow today. This transition is a special time in your life—and in a funny way, it is a gift. I will never forget the Christmas I spent here, and I hope yours is just as special. Merry Christmas.

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I hope you liked it, dear readers. Good luck on your New Year’s Eve preparations! If you’re not back here before then, I wish you a happy New Year full of peace, love, good health, and prosperity. ❤

Merry Christmas: Top Ten Holiday-Spirit Books

Merry Christmas, dear readers! I hope those of you who celebrate it are having a fun time. My family, friends, and coworkers have slowly been celebrating it all month long, and yet I miss it already, and it’s not even over yet! Last night, my family, a couple of coworkers, and I went to the Christmas Eve Mass at the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters’ chapel–the commute from work was fantastic (it’s in the same building…). It was a lovely event with candles, carols, and a nice sermon.

But who’s ready to be done with the Christmas spirit? Not I! The Huffington Post shared a list of their top 12 picks for books that will get you in the holiday spiritI thought that was a wonderful idea, so I also polled my friends as to their top picks. Below, I am posting a conglomeration of their picks. I will note where each is from.
(All pictures are from Amazon. Click to purchase and read summaries.)

The festivity won’t end today, not on this blog! I will continue to sprinkle holiday-related posts through the New Year, so don’t put away the holiday sweaters just yet.

Top Ten Holiday-Spirit Books

1. Winter Dreams, Christmas Love by Mary Francis Shura

Recommended by my coworker Erin

“It is a little-known, wonderful young adult love story,” says Erin. I’ve never heard of this one, but I’d like to check it out. (Used copies of this one may be more affordable than new.)

2. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Recommended by my friend Chris

This children’s book is a hit with all ages, and if you’ve only seen the movie, you owe it to yourself to read this book and experience the quiet majesty in the pages.

3. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

Recommended by many people–one our dad used to read to Jennifer and me each year on Christmas Eve ❤

This book captures the ageless excitement and anticipation of Christmas, making it more of a family book than a children’s book.

4. The Jesse Tree (by Catherine Fournier) & The Bible

Recommended by my fellow blogger friend Misty

“It is a daily activity starting on Dec 1 that you do with the kids that covers little Bible stories leading up to Jesus’s birth,” Misty explains. “So our main Christmas book would be the Bible. You make handmade ornaments that the kids hang on the tree to help them make a connection with each different story. It’s been really fun this year!” Sounds like a meaningful way to have fun this season. 🙂

5. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Recommended by my friend Amy L.

I couldn’t describe this better than Amazon’s own description: “The Velveteen Rabbit is a timeless tale of friendship, love, acceptance and honesty. When the world seems uncertain, Margery Williams’s classic story reminds all of us what really matters. The Velveteen Rabbit’s journey through love and loneliness to become who he was really meant to be is a story that inspires us all on our own journey to Real.” I cried at this story when I was little; I’m not sure I could even make it through at my age now, since I somehow broke “growing up” and am more sensitive now than when I was younger. 😉
The Christmas theme comes in here because the titular Rabbit is a Christmas present. ❤

6. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Recommended by my friend Amy L.

Amazon’s description is lovely: “No book has captured the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall better than The Snowy Day. Universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever.” Misty says she reads this to her schoolchildren every year. 🙂
We certainly have been having a lot of snow in our region this year, and I will say I miss viewing it with childhood fondness vs. adult frustration. Although, we have been enjoying it this year a bit, with my coworkers throwing the occasional snowball at each other outside, as well as my sister and I having plans to build a real-life–snow version of this, our contest entry for her office’s Christmas party:

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Jennifer (right) and I love our Olaf (recreated from Disney’s Frozen)

7. The Mitten by Jan Brett

Recommended by my friend Amy L.

“Grandmother knits snow-white mittens that Nikki takes on an adventure. Readers will enjoy the charm and humor in the portrayal of the animals as they make room for each newcomer in the mitten and sprawl in the snow after the big sneeze.” -The Horn Book. Sounds adorable. 🙂

8. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

Recommended by me

I loved this even before it was a Disney movie. It’s one of my favorite fairy tales, and it holds cultural significance all around the world. It’s especially appropriate during the holiday season, not only for the snow, but also for its feel-good themes. As Amazon describes: “Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, the classic tale of friendship, love, and bravery, is full of magic and wonder.”

9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Recommended by the Huffington Post

From my last post, you already know how integral this book has become to Christmastime world-round. This classic tale of greed and careful isolation turned to generosity and open love–and the love we get back–is an important reminder to people of all ages about the true meaning of Christmas.

10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Recommended by the Huffington Post

This classic takes place in a land of eternal winter, frozen scenery and frozen hearts. Ironically, although “it’s always winter and never Christmas,” the themes and triumphs evoke Christmassy feelings.
This is sort of a children’s book, and sort of not. The language, scenery, and plot are accessible for children, and it’s an enjoyable adventure. The deeper symbolism, though, tells of sacrifice, courage, truth, and love–and it’s one of the truest “Christ stories” I’ve ever read.
(A “Christ story,” for lack of a better term, refers to a genre of literature that mirrors Christ’s journey of miraculous birth–or sometimes miraculous rebirth–spreading goodness and love throughout the land. I bet you’ve read many Christ stories without even knowing it–Frank Herbert’s Dune is another example.)
This story will always be special to me because it’s one of the first I read after my Traumatic Brain Injury, and it was inspirational and magical to me. 🙂

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I hope you enjoyed the list, dear readers, and maybe you will consider capping off your Christmas with one of these before bed. Check back on my blog over the next couple of weeks for some more holiday/winter-themed posts. Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!