The holiday season is upon us, whether we like it or not. I’ve gotten off to a late start this year. Late for me – a person who generally has holiday cards in the mail the day before Thanksgiving and all gifts purchased and ready for wrapping by the first of December. Today is the 12th of December. The cards just went out a couple of days ago and only half of the gifts have arrived from the various online locations from where they were purchased. I haven’t done the dreaded Black Friday mall-walk for many, many years. What’s the point? Most things are cheaper online anyway. And they’ll usually ship things to your house for free. Why go out in freezing cold weather and wrestle with a harried woman over the last just-released-director’s-cut-of-fillintheblank-movie? I pre-ordered that film a month ago online.
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
— Dr. Seuss
Tonight, my kitchen table is strewn with bubble wrap, brightly colored wrapping paper, rolls of scotch tape and countless ribbons and bows. The gifts (the ones that have arrived) have been removed from their cardboard boxes, the plastic wrapping taken off and set to the side for filling in the spaces between breakables and gift box. The tree is lit. The fire is roaring in the wood stove. And the moment has finally come, the one that I wait for every year.
You could say that I’m a bibliophile. I love books. What’s more, I love searching the web for that perfect book. The book that I know the person I’m buying it for doesn’t know that they want or need, but will cherish for years to come. That’s not an easy thing to do, let me tell you. I’ve made many missteps along the way. And most of the time, I end up with a book the receiver enjoys and appreciates – but to find the cherished book…that’s the oft missed goal. Although, I can usually approximate how close I am by the inscription that best fits the book selected.
Generally, the mark of a perfect book boils down to the perfect inscription. Some books call out for lines of poetry to be written on the inside cover. Others need the words of great philosophers or novelists or even phrases written in a foreign language. And when that happens, I know that I’ve found a good book that will say something or mean something to the receiver at the time. But that will be all. It will be a book that marks time. A book that, years later when the person who received it finds it again, dusty and neglected on their bookshelf, will think, “Oh yes. I remember what was happening that year.” Other books are nearly impossible to find inscriptions for because, let’s face it, if a book doesn’t call out for an inscription of some sort – any sort – it’s probably not a good book in the first place. But the book that demands an inscription that recalls childhood is the book that will be cherished forever. Because it is not tied to any one event, rather, it is tied to possibility and innocence. It is tied to an idea of a life.
This year, I think I just may have found that perfect book. I know this book is the book because there is only one inscription that will do. That inscription comes from the incomparable Dr. Seuss. It’s happened only a few times in my book-giving years, but I’ve found that when a book calls out for a line or two from Dr. Seuss, it is as close to the perfect book as I’m ever going to get.