In this edition of Nick’s Favorite Things (yep, it’s a thing now), I talk about a couple of books that I think are exceptional and couple other things too. Enjoy!
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
The Wild Christmas Reindeer is an unusual book, which is probably why it was a standout for me when my parents would pull out the Christmas boxes. We had some good stuff in those boxes, including an early Santa Lego set, a pop-up version of Twas the Night Before Christmas, and a village with tiny figurines of characters from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I loved digging into our boxes after Thanksgiving, when I was young enough that I only vaguely remembered what was in them. But The Wild Christmas Reindeer was one of the things that I always remembered.
Why? Back then, I didn’t know. Now I know one of the reasons is the beautiful illustrations. Jan Brett is amazing. Every page has a border that shows the goings on inside different parts of the castle you see on the first page. It was fun flipping back to the beginning and finding the matching tower. There is also a ton of detail that I still find intriguing. Who are these wild Christmas reindeer? Bramble, Heather, Windswept, Lichen, Snowball, Crag, Twilight, and Tundra. Are these the great grandparents of the eight tiny reindeer we know? Or the maybe the great grandchildren? Is this an alternate reality?
Fun fact: I thought this was an obscure book growing up, even before I knew what obscure meant! I didn’t know any other kids who had it. But last year (or maybe it was two years ago), Jan Brett visited Schuler Books in Okemos. I grabbed my copy of The Wild Christmas Reindeer and we headed out to get it signed. Turns out Jan Brett is a total rock star in the kidlit industry. She had a bus that was decked out in illustrations from her books and a line nearly out the door. Obscure? Not so much. It reminds me of when my nephew, now aged 17, was pretty sure he’d discovered Weird Al.
Love, Santa by Martha Brockenbrough
I am not a cryer. I’ve never cried during a movie (though Toy Story 3 almost had me) and I’ve never cried while reading. Well, get the tissues ready, especially if you have kids who are starting to ask questions about the man in red.
Ashley and I read Love, Santa together one night after we had tucked the boys into bed. By the time we were done, I was wondering where the last ten years had gone. The story takes you through the childhood of a girl, Lucy, who writes to Santa every year. As she grows older, she begins asking the same questions many of us had. Why does Santa’s handwriting look like mom’s? How can Santa go to every house in one night? Finally, Lucy writes a letter to her mom. “Are you Santa?”
For me, that is a devastating question. It is the end of innocence in some ways. A rite of passage for some. But in the book, the mother (Martha, really) handles it with grace. We haven’t read it to the boys yet, but will when the time is right.
New York Puzzle Company Harry Potter Puzzles
This is actually a two-parter, but I’ll keep it brief. I love puzzles and I really love Christmas puzzles. And
most of all, I like puzzles that are of a high quality. I’m a Ravensburger guy myself, but the New York Puzzle Company meets my expectations. So when I found out they had made not one, but two Harry Potter Christmas themed puzzles, I was pretty darn excited.
The first one is called Three Broomsticks. It’s not technically a Christmas puzzle, but it gives me the right feels. It’s snowing, there are warm drinks in hand, and lights on the tree. If that’s not enough, it’s the perfect picture of friendship (in this nerd’s eyes, anyway).
The second one is actually called Christmas at Hogwarts. While I’m devastated that I haven’t gotten my letter yet, and therefore haven’t gotten to spend Christmas at Hogwarts, this puzzle gets me a little bit closer. It depicts students celebrating in the Great Hall with candles and decorated trees and good food. *Sigh*
Lego Holiday Sets
Earlier in this writing, I mentioned some of the things I loved most in our Christmas decorations boxes. One of those things was a Lego Santa and one was a holiday village. So how could I not be excited about a Lego Holiday village?
The series has seven sets: The Winter Holiday Train, Winter Village Fire Station, Winter Village Market, Winter Village Cottage, Santa’s Workshop, Winter Toy Shop, and Winter Village Station. I really like the idea of having a Lego building day after Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday decorating.
The one drawback, which is often a drawback with Lego, is the price. They’re pretty darn expensive, though comparable to other village sets.
White Fudge Oreo
Do I even need to explain? If you haven’t tried the best holiday treat ever, go pick up a box before they’re gone!
Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles
Lastly is a movie that Netflix released this year, which stars Kurt Russel as Santa. I was highly skeptical. However, I was swayed by an unlikely source. I have a terrible habit of reading Facebook comments on nearly everything. It usually wrecks my mood, but I just can’t help it. Anyway, The Christmas Chronicles appeared on my feed and the comments were mostly positive. Shocker!
I ended up watching with the family and we all enjoyed it. It is now Logan’s favorite Christmas movie and I’ll be happy to add it to our annual watch list. One word of warning: if my kids were younger (they’re 10 and 11 now), I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much. There were some swear words, some parts with shady people in scary situations, and lots of talk about believing or not believing. Good for older kids, maybe not for the littles.
That’s all I have for now! Join me again soon for Nick’s Favorite Things! Merry Christmas, happy holidays, peace, love, and joy to all!
PS. If you feel so inclined to purchase one of these things, I hope you can do so locally. My place is Schuler Books in Okemos. But you do you.