My mom & I have a tradition going back to my very first Christmas, one that I intend to continue if I ever have children myself. See, I’m 27 years old — and as of this Christmas, I will be in possession of 27 different Christmas books. That’s because every Christmas since my very first Christmas, my mom has gotten me a new holiday book. She always looks for one that is unique in some way — something outrageously funny and goofy; something that tells a heartfelt story; something with beautiful illustrations. Some of the books are classics; others are far more unique.
But in all 27 years, there is none that have been more special to me, I think, than Chris van Allsburg’s The Polar Express. I am continuously charmed by the beautiful illustrations and the simplicity of the story.
See, The Polar Express is really just a story about believing. And that, to me, is the real magic of the holiday season. My family isn’t particularly religious, so growing up Christmas was always more about Santa Class and Ho, Ho, Ho than it was about celebrating the birth of Jesus.
But even as we focused on Santa Claus and Rudolph and Frosty, we still cherished the spirit of the holiday season. We believed in the spirit of the holiday season; in the idea that it’s better to give than to receive. That the really important things don’t come in packages; that the really important things are the loved ones around you. And it’s that message at the heart of The Polar Express that has always been so special to me.
I have fond memories of reading this book with my parents and my brother on Christmas Eve — and while the movie adaptation of a few years ago goes far beyond the book, the message is still the same … Believe.