Time to ExploreVery large deer can be found far north - think of Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland - Iceland and Denmark are sometimes included; part of the area is also referred to as Lapland) and Siberia (Northern Asia - part of Russia).
Reindeer are often referred to as caribou. A reindeer has thick fur and broad hoofs. It feeds on grasses found beneath the snow in winter. Both sexes have 'branching' antlers. It is a source of milk, meat, and leather, but is also used as a pack animal.
Reindeer seem to be a perfect choice for pulling Santa's sleigh.
Book Reviews for KidsI have always had favorite holiday books that I bring out each year. The favorites for all generations includes The Night Before Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and more recently, The Polar Express (among others). The following selections definitely meet the criteria of sparking the imagination and bringing the true spirit of the season.
God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn
Bergren addresses the question of finding Santa - or God - in Christmas. It is a warm, loving story of Mama Bear taking Little Cub on a journey to find God and see how he gave us Christmas. They climb mountains, view the northern lights, watch a glacier cracking, sight a beautiful morning star, and discover a tiny flower growing in the snow. It is a simple, but powerful message that a 3 or 4 year old will enjoy and understand ... and continue to find it inspiring as he or she grows older.
Patricia Polacco has long been one of my favorite authors, so it is no surprise that she has two very heart-warming stories about Christmas - taken from her own family 'memory' tree.
An Orange for Frankie features a ten year old boy, the youngest boy of nine siblings, during the depression era. It is a family tradition for Pa to travel for days across Michigan during the holiday season to obtain precious Florida oranges to place on the mantel for Christmas. While he is gone, another tradition of Ma feeding hobos traveling by train past their farm happens - and Frankie gives his beautiful hand-knit sweater to a hobo who has no shirt. We see kindness, forgiveness, and love demonstrated in this wonderful family remembrance of a Christmas past. (Children as young as 4 would understand the story, but the actual reading level may be closer to 8 and up).
Welcome Comfort is a beautiful story of an overweight foster child - of this name, who is often teased - finding a 'family-like' friendship with a janitor and his wife. Although he does not believe in Santa Claus, a magical dream one Christmas eve becomes the inspiration for a 'Santa Claus' transformation years later. This is not your typical 'Christmas' story, but is an excellent read for a more mature audience (8 and up).
Night Tree by Eve Bunting is a touching story of a family
tradition that many of us wish we would have embraced. It is Christmas Eve and the family ventures into a forest near by to decorate their 'special' tree with popcorn garlands, apples, oranges, sunflower seeds with honey, and other treats that wildlife habitats enjoy. Then the family settles down on a blanket to have a hot chocolate snack. Although it is not truly a Christmas story, it is one of giving, caring for wildlife, and loving family relationships that bring out the spirit of the season. (4 years and up)
In My BackyardThis is such a wonderful season and I feel guilty that my backyard 'doesn't' reflect the wonder. No lights, no glamour, but. . . the wildlife still reigns - especially if I remember to fill the bird feeders.
As I reflect, I wrote down a few thoughts. . .
Of Sleds and skis, and cold wet snow.
Dreams and wishes of Christmases past.
Of wrapped gifts, cookies - the family together at last.
The miles between friends seem to grow every year,
but fond memories bring us bright holiday cheer.
May this spirit and joy fill each of our lives,
bringing peace and love when Christmas arrives.
By Joan Bock