By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine
Most children of my generation looked forward to the annual Sears Christmas catalog and would dog ear the pages of items they hoped to find under the Christmas tree. I was one of those children.
However, I was drawn more by my Mom’s collection of Ideals Christmas soft cover books. The glossy Christmas-themed cover never disappointed. She kept her collection in the bottom drawer of her mahogany secretary. Even in the midst of the 100 degree heat of July, I would carefully dig in the bottom drawer and pull out Mom’s Ideals Christmas books, losing myself in the pictures and stories of Christmas found within those favorite pages. Mentally escaping into those pages of pictures of snowy landscapes and holiday stories and poems of Christmas had a cooling effect on a sweltering July day.
At Christmastime, Mom would decorate using the Ideals Christmas books. The current year would sit on her upright piano. Her collection of Ideals Christmas books would sit in a pretty basket decorated with a faux cardinal on a pine branch and a bright red bow on the floor to the left of her piano. These were well loved stories Mom would read to us during the season. It was Mom’s version of an advent calendar. During these readings, I would lay on the floor under the Christmas tree and look up through the tree colored light bulbs, ornaments and icicles, throughly enjoying the cadence of my Mom’s voice reading these stories aloud.
My favorite of all the stories is Hans Christian Anderson’s, The Little Match Girl. The story always made me cry and still brings tears to my eyes. Mom didn’t like reading it to me because I would cry and would try to steer me to happier stories. I loved this story because it’s about reminding us all, especially in the Christmas season, to pay attention to those less fortunate and be grateful for what we already have.
Ideals started as a newsletter and evolved into a magazine then soft and hard cover books. The Ideals magazines were published bi-monthly by the Ideals Publishing Co. of Milwaukee, WI. Ideals magazine is a holiday magazine of inspirational poetry, artwork and nostalgia. The first issue of the magazine was published during the Christmas holiday of 1944 by a public relations manager named Van B. Hooper. The magazine began as a collection of poems that were added to a company newsletter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ideals is now a division of Worthy Publishing Group, based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Unfortunately, I don’t have my Mom’s Ideals Christmas books. She would bring them and read to my children when they were younger. I don’t know what became of her books, but I have luckily found a couple on eBay. The Ideals Christmas Treasury shown in the above was my best find. It contains my favorite story, The Little Match Girl.
Do you have a favorite Ideals Christmas story?