Toy Story: They kept their favorites to honor the giver, the tradition and the memories
Published 6:45 am Saturday, November 24, 2018
For these Austin residents, holding onto childhood Christmas gifts isn’t about value — at least not in the monetary sense.
The memories measured by a doll’s broken arm, a Lionel train set or the faded pages of a favorite book, are worth much, much more than any price tag, they say.
“I think with the changing days, when our kids move away … it’s like every tradition you can keep is sacred,” said Lisa Deyo, who owns Sweet Reads bookstore in Austin.
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And, those items you keep from childhood are the touchstones of family traditions, she said.
“And you hope at least one of your kids will carry them on,” she said.
For Deyo, who grew up in rural Austin, a recent discovery of her family’s 1958 children’s book, “The Night Before Christmas,” triggered warm memories of past Christmases. The colorful book has a “felted” cover, which refers to the soft fabric-like accents that when touched, feel like felt.
Deyo, who grew up to become teacher as well as bookseller, said she clearly recalled reading and re-reading the book which illustrated the beloved poem written by Clement Clarke Moore.
“My 87-year-old mom happened to be in the (book) store late last fall when a woman asked about getting a special Christmas book from her childhood,” Deyo recalled. “As she described the book to me, my mom and I both perked up — it was also a special book for us.”
Deyo researched the title and although she could not find the one sought by her customer, it ignited a desire to see if the long-ago book from her childhood was still in the family home.
Neither Deyo nor her mom, Betty Lou Lyle, had seen the book in recent years, so “Mom went home to dig it up,” she said. “And sure enough, she had not one, but two copies of it.”
Deyo said the book brought back Christmas memories — many of them surrounding books. Her mother always had this book, and other Christmas books, on hand for reading before the holiday. Deyo could almost smell her mother’s preparations of the traditional Norwegian treats of lefse, krumkake and Deyo’s favorite, rommegrot, a rich, Norwegian dessert, which she continues to make today during the holidays.
This past Christmas saw new memories being made, she said, when she and her siblings received Christmas gifts from their mom — each containing old books that had been in the family for years.
Her siblings looked pained when they heard what they were getting.
“I, on the other hand, opened my box of books and jumped up, dancing, singing, thanking her greatly,” when she found her box contained one of the copies of the book she loved so much.
“It will always be my treasure and one my mom and I will share with secret delight,” she said.
Last Christmas, Deyo took photos of her mom reading the same book to a younger generation of family.
And so the traditions continue.
Pick up your copy of the November-December edition of Austin Living Magazine to read the rest of this story including Steve Kime and Sue Grove who also tell stories from Christmas pasts.