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December 12, 2012

Roberta Gately: The Greatest Gift of All

Posted by tom

Roberta Gately is a nurse, humanitarian aid worker, and the author of two novels: LIPSTICK IN AFGHANISTAN and, most recently, THE BRACELET. Here, she reveals the Christmas gift she would look forward to each year as a child. It wasn’t a new doll, a game, or a nightgown, but the rectangular telltale shape of a book under her Christmas tree.

Wishes really can come true, and that is never more evident than in the season of Christmas, perhaps the sweetest season of the year. For so many of us, Christmas is a season of evocative scents --- of cinnamon and pine trees and roasting chestnuts --- and treats for our senses. It’s a  feast for our eyes in the dazzling lights and decorations, and for our ears --- the sounds of children laughing, music playing, a hum of happiness that permeates the season. A holiday for dreaming and remembering…

For me, the memories revolve around Christmas morning, and the gift I was sure to receive year after year --- a book. As a lifelong reader, I treasured that moment on Christmas morning, in the hushed silences before dawn, when I sat to survey my gifts and saw the telltale shape of a book among the stack of presents. For though I loved my dolls and games and new nightgown, it was the book that offered the most promise, the book that would never wear out or fade with time. A new book held the promise of new friends and new adventures, and unfamiliar places that would burst into my mind’s eye with the special ebb and flow that only a child’s imagination can conjure up. But my journey always began with holding the new book and running my hand slowly across the smooth cover before opening to the first crisp pages, the scent of their newness lingering in the air. I can still see one of my favorites --- LITTLE WOMEN --- as it lay on my chair, a perfect new family of friends with which I’d share my holiday and the days to follow. 

I have only to close my eyes and see again the tree sparkling with lights, the candles at the window, the scent of turkey in the oven, the promise of a Christmas Eve and morning filled with enough joy to last a lifetime, and at the end of that magical day, a brand new book to curl up with. To this day, a book is my idea of the perfect gift.

I wish you all a magical Christmas filled with books, and family and love, a day when all of your fondest dreams come true. Merry Christmas to all, and may you receive the book that will keep you reading and wishing for more!