All I want for Christmas


Peggy Renfro

Guest Columnist


At this time of year thinking of Christmas and gifts for a wide ranging group of family members, I usually talk with all to get an idea of what they like to watch, read, wear, etc. When I asked what kind of books their children like to read, several said, “Oh, my children don’t like to read.” Well, of course that isn’t exactly true as they do read constantly but it is the little screen on their iPhones or on their laptops if not listening to sound.

As I think of past Christmases, I remember the magic of books when I was a child. They took me to new places, new worlds and set me on the road to becoming a writer. As a grown mother of four, I took my children and a niece and nephew to the Atlanta Zoo. My nephew came to me in later years and said, “I had read books in school, and saw the pictures, but did not realize what was in those books was real until I saw the live animals at the zoo. That trip changed my life.”

To think such a little thing as a trip to the zoo made a difference in how he looked at books the rest of his life, taught me a lesson. And, I wonder, do parents actually talk with their children about books, what is in them, and who writes them, who produces them? One day at the Salvation Army store, I saw a woman loading up on children’s books. She had a box full and I mentioned her children must like to read. She said, these are for my foster children, they love to read. She was a compassionate woman and obviously a natural born teacher.

Everyone wonders if electronics will replace physical books so I often ask people I meet which they prefer. Many admit to preferring paperback books. They like to hold the book in their hands and read. I prefer books to my Kindle as it usually runs out of battery before I finish the book. A young boy came to me at a festival and said he really liked my book Wren, written for my ten grandsons. His grandmother said he had read it several times. I learned from my nephew, to include something to learn from the action in each book I write. Since I learned so much from reading books over the years, I hope others will learn something from the books I write.

My son’s request was a wonderful one. “All I want,” he said, “is a handwritten letter for Christmas.”

I thought; what a wonderful unselfish idea. Those letters would become a family history. His daughter is expecting a baby girl in March. At some time in the future, perhaps she will read the letters and get a happy sense of what a loving family is all about. When the older family members have passed on, the letters will remain.

As electronic devices become more invasive in our lives, perhaps at this beautiful time of the year, celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, the basics of a solid family and good friends is what the Season is all about.

My son said it well, “All I want is a handwritten letter for Christmas.”

PJ Renfroe, founder of the Heritage Writer’s Group, is a native Georgian who has been writing “all her life.” She continues to try to please her ten grandchildren; her biggest fans and strictest critics!