A Special Christmas Gift and the Joy of Reading

Christmas morning 2017 will be one I will remember and cherish for a long time. As an adult I have always enjoyed the excitement and joy of giving more than receiving. But this year I was the recipient of a wonderful gift from my daughter, Rachel. We both share a love for reading and several months ago I had told her about one of my favorite childhood books called, “The Turtle and the Dove” by Don Freeman. She remembered it and got it for me for Christmas. I was moved to tears as I unwrapped my gift and laid eyes on a book that had meant so much to me as a child (and which I hadn’t seen in over 30 years).

So once all the “duties” of Christmas were completed I sat down with my book. I was instantly transported back in time by not only the story but also the beautiful illustrations (which were also done by Don Freeman). And it opened the floodgates of a childhood memory that I not thought about for so long – the memory of my mother reading to me. Even before I could walk or tie my own shoelaces she would read to me. She must have read this book to me hundreds of times along with others such as “The runaway pancake” and “Home for a bunny”. I remembered how she would do different voices, making the stories more vibrant and exciting. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mother had given me a wonderful gift all those years ago – the love and joy of reading. (She also gave me the joy of music but that will be for another article!).

As I grew and learned to read myself my passion grew. We often took trips to the library where I explored the world through children’s books. They would take me anywhere I wanted to go. Some of the names of the books have been lost to memory but not the excitement of being able to bring them home and read. One of my early favorites was the Peanuts books which made me laugh. In elementary school we would order books from Scholastic Reader and were so thrilled when the books arrived! By the time I was 8 or 9 I was into sports, especially football. I would often get books about current and recent players and games. I also loved reading about the the history of football and heroes like Jim Thorpe and Red Grange.

I am happy to say that this passion has never left me (or my Mom as she is one of the most voracious readers I know!). Today I still love going to the library (or to the antique store, or Goodwill etc) to get books. If there’s a library book sale I am there. My main problem is I never know when to stop! It seems for every book I read I take on 5 more. For a brief time this summer I got close to catching up while I was recovering from surgery. Now I’m about 10 books behind (OK, maybe 15 after stopping at TWO different libraries on the way home tonight). But I am happy with it. Linus had to have his blanket, I have to have a book at my side or I have the same reaction as when Lucy buried his blanket. I can definitely identify with the character of Henry Bemis (played by Burgess Meredith) in the classic Twilight Zone episode “Time enough at last”.

And I still love the sense of adventure and excitement as I read and learn new things. I still occasionally read sports books but my favorite subjects are science, history and books with insight and commentary on the bible. And btw, science and the bible are NOT opposed to one another. As we learn more and more about the universe and particularly quantum physics the more the reality of God becomes evident. I imagine there being a huge library in heaven. In fact, if you can’t find me in eternity that’s probably where I’ll be.

Sadly it seems like today reading is becoming a lost art. While social media has its place (after all, you ARE reading this article online!), the amount of time people spend on it and the obsession with it has become dangerous. It is not only dumbing us down but it is destroying our social skills. If everyone spent one hour a day reading (hashtags do NOT count!), I think they would have happier lives and be more well-adjusted both mentally and emotionally. And they would be smarter! You and your friends will survive if you don’t talk to each other until tomorrow (does anyone write hand written letters anymore?). And I would urge parents of young children to take the time to read to them, daily if you can. It doesn’t take long. You could read a book like “The Turtle and the Dove” in 5 minutes or less. But those 5 minutes a day will pay dividends for a lifetime. It did with me. Thank you Mom!!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have books piled up beside me that I need to get started on – right after I read ‘The Turtle and the Dove” again and see how the story turns out this time!

John Baldwin

John Baldwin is a native of Roanoke, Va located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of SW VA. He is a husband and father of three children. He has been a devout Christian since he surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ and accepted the free gift of salvation in 1988. Politically John is a conservative who's political views were formed during the administration of Ronald Reagan. John's fulltime job is as an Applications Analyst (Software programming). John is also the host of two online radio shows on Victory Radio - "The Front Porch Gospel Music Show" and "Victory Talk Radio" (interview show). He is also an avid "oldies" music fan and is the DJ of the weekly "J-Bal Oldies Show” on the Doo Wop Cove.

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