Thursday, December 2, 2010


by Hilary Knight

Food for Thought ~ I'm serving up a platter of sweet miniature books. Sadly, now out of print, this little box of books, was first printed in 1963. The Nutshell Library is a set of four miniature volumes, each with it's own special little story for the Christmas season. They've been part of my Christmas joy for many years.

A FIREFLY IN A FIR TREE is well, A CHRISTMAS CAROL FOR MICE. Yes, each little page offers up a "mouse" version of THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. From a "firefly in a fir tree to silver pins, thistle dusters, holly berries, bluebells, wrens nesting, spiders spinning, crickets singing, nuts for nibbling, tree toads leaping, feathers fanning, and bees abuzzing" this Carol for Mice is sure to make you smile.

ANGELS & BERRIES & CANDY CANES is an alphabet of yule-time pleasures. No text, just fanciful illustrations for each letter, so young ones can tell the story in their own words with clues from the bold Alphabet Letter of each page.

A CHRISTMAS STOCKING STORY is the whimsical story of how the animals fix Santa's merry Christmas mix-up. You know, even Santa can make a mistake!

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is of course the classic poem by Clement C. Moore beautifully interpreted through the black and white illustrations of Mr. Knight.

~Now Serving a Platter of Chocolates ~

I couldn't resist these little blocks of sweet milk chocolates all wrapped up in foil jackets delightfully illustrated with the images of Molly Brett. Just look at this parade of woodland critters getting into the Christmas spirit. These little guys could have come straight out of the pages of a Nutshell Library.

Oh, and feel free to take a chocolate.
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~Written by O. Henry ~

~ Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger~

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI is not a new publication, and no doubt many of you reading this post have read this story of a young couple's sacrifice and love for each other. William Sidney Porter's short story was first published in a New York City newspaper in 1905. Since that time it has become known as a classic Christmas story of poverty, selfless love, and generosity.

Tis the day before Christmas and Della is distraught because she has but $1.87 with which to purchase a gift for her beloved husband, James. The young couple, struggling to make ends meet on $20 a week, lives in a bleak apartment in New York City.

The couple has but two treasured possessions among them ~ "Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters" and "Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's." After a heartfelt cry, Della sets out onto the streets of the cold city to Mme Sofronie's Hair Goods of All Kinds. Then with another $20 in hand, Della spends the next two hours in search "of something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim."

With gift in hand, Della returns home to "repair the ravages made by generosity added to love." With heated curling irons her short hair becomes a mass of tiny curls, and she feels intoxicated with joy knowing that she has purchased the perfect Christmas gift for her beloved Jim ~ a fob chain for his treasured gold watch.

"At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops." When Jim walks into the apartment and see's Della's short bob, Della cannot read the expression on his face. He draws Della to him and then pulls a package from his pocket. For Jim had purchased a set of tortoise hair combs that Della had long admired in a shop window along Broadway.

Holding out the precious metal watch fob in her hand, Della hears Jim say that there is no longer a gold watch to be chained. For Jim has sacrificed his treasured gold watch to buy the tortoise combs for Della's vanished hair.

Wise beyond their years and full of selfless love for one another, Jim says, "Dell, let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at the present. . . . And now suppose you put the chops on."

William Sidney Porter, who wrote under the pen name of O. Henry, is known for witty and playful stories that end with a twist. He was born in Greensboro, NC in 1862. Porter moved to Austin in 1884 where he later married Athol Estes. He and Athol had a daughter, Margaret Worth Porter. The young family lived in this house which now serves as the O. Henry Museum.

It is both a National Registry Property and a National Literary Landmark. Specifics about the museum can be found at

I recommend you pick up a copy of Lisbeth Zwerger's beautifully illustrated version of this famous story available here on Amazon. It's a perfect story to share the true meaning of gift giving ~ gifts given from one's heart with self-sacrifice and the generosity of love.

And now, let's eat that chop.

Joining Jain's Food for Thought featuring
Christmas & Holiday Themed Books in December