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December 8, 2009

Stephen Coonts: Christmas Memories

Posted by admin

Today's guest blogger, Stephen Coonts --- whose latest thriller, THE DISCIPLE, hits stores today --- muses on some of the simple joys of past Christmases, and reminds us of the best way to recapture the magic and wonder of the holiday season.

Please visit Stephen's newly redesigned website for a special treat!

Christmas is the premier holiday, although some men say their favorite holiday is the first day of deer season. For me, Christmas is shopping for presents, wrapping them, the anticipation of giving them, helping Deborah get the turkey into the oven on Christmas morning, aromas wafting from the kitchen, watching children tear open presents with squeals of delight, “Thank you’s” floating on the air, little treasures piling up at their feet, and convivial laughter around the dinner table. Christmas is the joy of being alive and in love with family, even when I was in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Christmas then was only letters from home, but ah, the emotions and memories that came with the letters!

Sometimes, on a rare occasion, we servicemen received more than letters. My eldest daughter, Rachael, was and is my favorite Christmas present. She was born on December 23, and I received the Red Cross notification on Christmas Day.

Other than daughters, books are my favorite present to give or receive. I try to pick just the perfect book for the avid readers on my list, and they try to do the same for me. I can recall Rachael, no more than six or seven, watching me open a book she chose for me and telling me why I would love it. And of course I did, because she knew I would.

My mother used to read to my brother and me at Christmas, and throughout the year, from THE CHILDREN’S ANTHOLOGY OF LITERATURE, a classic illustrated by Andrew Wyeth. I gave Mom’s copy to my children one Christmas many years ago, but somehow it was lost in the shuffles and vicissitudes of life. Several years ago, my brother and I scoured the internet for copies, which we hope to read to our grandchildren. When we do, we will both remember our mother reading to us while we huddled against her, one on each side, looking at Wyeth’s stupendous art.

Christmas is a time to renew your grasp on the magic and wonder of life. Open your heart this Christmas and let life shine in. And when everyone else is in bed, and you need to wind down a little before sleep, read a good book.

-- Stephen Coonts

Tomorrow, Hallie Ephron and Melissa Mayhue both discuss books worth holding onto.