My mother did not teach me to read. She left that to the good nuns. But once I started reading, it was Mom who introduced me to the public library that was within walking distance of our home.
I'm not sure how old I was when I got my own library card, probably 7 or 8, but I remember the thrill of checking out that first library book on a Saturday afternoon and curling up in bed with Mom that night so we could take turns reading the pages.
For Christmas, Mom bought me classics like "Tom Sawyer," "Huckleberry Finn," "A Tale of Two Cities" and "Jane Eyre" so I could build my own book collection, but that didn't stop us from going to the public library. It was our Saturday afternoon ritual for many years.
Last Thursday night I walked into Del Norte County Library and saw
more kids with parents, grandparents and friends than I've ever seen
there before. I don't know how many there were andndash; more than 50, maybe
close to 100. There were toddlers and pre-teens and children of every
age in between.
In fact there were so many people that all the chairs at the library
were taken. Kids lined up to get their first library card. Families sat
on the floor by the Christmas tree. Others huddled together in the
aisles between stacks of books. Grown-ups sitting in chairs held
children on their laps. And all of them were reading books.
It didn't take money or extraordinary resources to bring a crowd to
Del Norte County Library Thursday night. It was a simple event featuring
art projects, reading a story aloud, snacks and a visit from Santa.
What made it special were the loving guardians and curious children who
accepted the invitation to come together at our library and celebrate
Our library's staff andndash; particularly Kelley Nolan of Del Norte Reads andndash;
were gracious hosts, keeeping the doors open late and even lighting logs
in the fireplace to make the evening cozier. The city andndash; namely Eric
Wier and his crew andndash; made sure the community Christmas tree and
decorations were radiant and the area around the fountain was clean and
well lit. The city also provided power for the crock pots filled with
simmering organic apple cider that Deborah Kravitz of the DNUSD
Nutrition Program and her helpers provided. Deborah also handed out
homemade pumpkin-cranberry cookies and treat bags to take home to all
good boys and girls and a few adults as well.
I heard squeals of joy when Santa and Mrs. Claus approached Tsunami
Plaza. As soon as they appeared, the children rushed the Clauses,
reaching out for hugs while parents aimed their cameras.
It was a simple evening, yet a memorable one for me and for those who
attended. It celebrated community and family and especially the
children who shone as bright as the star on the tree.
Rick and I shot some photos during the event but we were so caught up
in the moment that we didn't do a very good job of gathering the names
of the people we photographed. So most of our subjects are not
identified. But they are the beautiful faces of our community:
enthusiastic young artists, determined readers, interested listeners and
caring families and friends who came together in the holiday spirit for
one evening in December.
Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate's publisher, at
mtandshy;hoandshy;masandshy;@triplicate.com, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.