Friday, December 6, 2013

The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter H. Reynolds

The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter H. Reynolds

Rating: 4 stars

Last fall I went through a Peter H. Reynolds-is-the-bomb-diggity phase.  I read The Dot and Ish and Plant A Kiss and appreciated his artwork in Tess's Tree and Someday and the Judy Moody series (that Lorelei is reading and loving now).  His stuff is pleasing to look at, but the underlying feel-good wonderful messages about creativity and inspiration and being YOU are what really impress me.  His hands and mind create gifts for children; they come in the shape of books.

So, when I saw The Smallest Gift of Christmas, I bought it immediately.  Didn't even read it.  It was by Peter H. Reynolds so it must be amazing and earth-shattering!

And it really is a sweet message, but one for grown-ups more than kids.

"Roland was eager for Christmas Day," writes Reynolds.  On the corresponding page he draws four stockings hung up with care, and we get a glimpse of what Roland cares about.  There are three appropriately-sized stockings and one stocking the size of a twin bed.  It rolls on the ground because it is too long to hang from the fireplace.  Funny!  And telling.
"When I say big, I mean BIG!" he yelled.

When he comes down on Christmas morning to a small gift with his name on the tag, he's disappointed.  So he wishes for a bigger gift. And right there and then, it doubles in size (and is still wrapped).  Wow!  He uses this magic again and again and again to make his gift bigger; yet instead of wonder and appreciation, he is angry and annoyed and grumpy.

Sounds like "I want a bigger gift!" and "That is not big enough!"pollute the air.

He gets into his rocketship and goes to outer space to try and find his now too-large-to-be-found gift.  It's from that rocketship that he peers out and sees Earth, now just a speck in the distance.

Oh.  He suddenly gets sad.  Earth.  So small, but it's what he wants.

So he wishes to be home. With his family.  Because they are the biggest gift.

Of course, I could wax poetic about how right Reynolds is, about how out-of-whack our Christmases have become.  I could reminisce about my Christmases abroad, away from my family, when I missed the laughing and eating together much more than the stuff.

But hopefully you already know these things.  And you've probably heard enough of my stories.  But being reminded about the importance of people over gifts by a sweet book with great illustrations never hurts.

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