Some of our favorite holiday traditions

(Kelsey is the Adult Community Events Liaison at the Main Library.)

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. Sometimes while we’re in the midst of the chaos, we forget why we put ourselves through it all. At the end of the day, one of the main objectives of the holiday turmoil is to spend time with loved ones. Several members of our Library staff celebrate in ways that are fun and unique to their cultures and families.

The food can be a bit repetitive this time of year. Samantha Walker, Circulation Manager, has tacos with her family each year for Christmas Day for this very reason. Dottie Oestreich, Administrative Assistant, has a popular tradition she has brought with her from Texas. Her family makes tamales and other types of Mexican food on Christmas Eve. Dottie says “There are a couple of ideologies about how this tradition has come to be: one is that the wrapped tamale symbolizes the Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothing. The second is that many families get together well before Christmas to prepare the tamales. This is almost a holiday in itself, because of the family time.”

Holiday traditions are special because they passed down through the generations and are introduced to new members as families expand. Hillary Delaney, Local History Associate, enjoys a Lithuanian dumpling at Christmas. Her mother-in-law has a family recipe handed down from her mother, who emigrated from Lithuania, that all the children and grandchildren learn how to make. They all make this dish together on Christmas. My husband’s family is Bulgarian and follow several of the traditional Bulgarian food customs for Christmas Eve dinner. The entire meal is vegetarian and only an odd number of dishes is allowed on the table. I brought a dessert the first year and it had to stay on the counter. Similar to king cake at Mardi Gras, there is a bread called koledna pitka (Christmas bread) that has coin hidden in it. Whoever finds the coin has good luck for the next year. The meal stays out overnight for the angels to feast upon.

Some of the most fun traditions are very unique to individual families. Sharon Franklin, Walton Branch Manager, annually has a dish they named Miriam’s Wedding Jello, Sharon’s best friend, Miriam, got married in 1970. As she tells it, “at the rehearsal dinner a fabulous, unfamiliar dessert was served.” Her mother and another lady tried numerous times to recreate it, were eventually successful, and continue to create the dessert each Christmas. Circulation Assistant Kimberly Johnson’s children receive pajamas on Christmas Eve from Santa’s elves, a tradition 16 years strong beginning with her oldest child. They spend much of the evening running back to their rooms to see if the pajamas have arrived, so the elves have to be sneaky!

The ultimate goal of most holiday activities is to have fun and spend quality time with the people you love. Our staff definitely know how to celebrate the season. We hope you have a wonderful time with all of your traditions, new and old!


Kelsey is the Adult Community Events Liaison at the Main Library. She loves the holiday season and all the different activities that go along with it. Kelsey enjoys seeing the Nutcracker each year, visiting Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights, and all the seasonal flavored treats and coffee.

BCPL Staff Share Their Favorite Children’s Christmas Books

Children’s Christmas books or Holiday books often create treasured memories around a powerful story. We hold these memories from years ago and continue to make new memories every December.  Boone County Public Library staff members share their favorite Christmas or Holiday children’s book from their childhood and even some from today.

Dee Purcell, Youth Services Associate – Outreach                                                    Pick a Pine Tree                                     by Patricia Toht, Illustrated by Jarvis   This is my favorite Christmas book for this season!  Jarvis’ whimsical, watercolor graphics have a vintage, timeless quality as Toht’s rhyming prose invites the reader along to select the perfect pine tree. Our story winds through the process of choosing the best place to put up the tree, and unpacking special boxes of decorations and lights for tree-trimming. There’s even a golden star, a tree skirt, and toys to complete the look. Watching the decorating unfold to its sparkling completion has held the attention of all my young readers, even toddlers!!!  A sweet surprise for this holiday season!  Click here to read along!

Karen Harden, Youth Services Librarian        Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree                    by Robert Barry                                                I love this book!  It was originally released in 1963 with simple ink drawings and green wash illustrations. Re-released in 2000 in full color washes, the book is a charming story told in rhyming text that follows the top of a too-tall Christmas tree shared by a succession of smaller and smaller animals. The importance of recycling and the joy of found objects are as relevant today as they were 55 years ago.


Cindy Donaldson, Youth Services Associate                Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck AND Rocking Horse Christmas by Mary Pope Osborne                          The board book Christmas in the Manger is one of my favorites, and has made its way into the hands of many of my new parent friends at this time of year 🙂  Mary Pope Osborne’s Rocking Horse Christmas is another favorite, but it always makes me teary! There are really so many Christmas books I love! It’s a tradition in our house to get a new book on Christmas Eve. My mom always said she needed a present that would keep me occupied until Christmas morning, LOL. I carried that tradition on with our kids.


Julie Bockstiegel, Collection Services                                            The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg    My daughter and I enjoyed The Jolly Christmas Postman when she was young.  Many pages of the book are like envelopes and contain letters, puzzles, and games that the Postman delivers to various fairy tale characters. The illustrations are adorable and it is really fun to pull out the contents as you read along with the story.  My daughter is looking forward to reading it with her daughter this year!


Mary Steele, Page                                      ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore                                      I have always liked this story because my Dad read it to me every year.  I would sit on his lap in the living room after we put the tree up and he would read it while having me sound out some of the words.  It was a very special time every year.  If you still have your dad in your life, give him a hug.  I still miss mine.


Jennifer Cheek, Public Relations Specialist                                                Christmas Carols: a Little Golden Book by Marjorie Wyckoff                                 As a child, I was always drawn to this book because of the angels on the cover wearing calico print dresses, and then in awe of the vintage illustrations inside the book along with the sheet music. “The First Nowell” illustration is one of my favorites. The book was old when I had it as a child so is quite brittle now.  But I still love to pull it out and flip through the classic carols we all know by heart.


Sandy Jones, Youth Service Circulation Assistant                                             Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner          I don’t know if my selection actually qualifies for Christmas/Holiday, but…I love this book!  During my time at Goodridge Elementary, I would always choose this book to read and it was always a hit with the kiddos as it was for my daughter too.  If one has ever wondered what snowmen do at night this will answer that curious question and have you rolling with laughter.


Angie Grandstaff, Youth Services Manager  Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehnersto                                                    Ever wonder what snowmen do at night?  This book gives us a peek of snowmen in action at Christmas time.  The illustrations are so fun and colorful.  It’s a great read any time, but especially at Christmas.




Joy Adams, Technical Services Specialist            The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.                                                            This is a humorous story about a family of kids who find the true meaning of Christmas. I suggest you watch the movie after reading the book!





Taylor Rasor, Youth Services Associate                                          Christmas Wombat by Jackie French                                              I love this book!  It is perfect for younger elementary school kids who love a good laugh. Just like the original book, Diary of a Wombat, this book is told through short diary like entries of a hungry wombat who discovers carrots and some reindeer. She accidentally stows away in Santa’s sleigh and gets to travel with him all around the world eating all the carrots she finds.


Candace Clark, Youth Services Associate – Outreach                                Jingle-Jingle by Nicola Smee                                                                                   This is one of my favorite books to share at this time of year because it is a jaunty action-adventure romp with cute animals through the snowy countryside, perfectly paced for 2-5 year old kiddos.



Chelsea Swinford, Youth Services Associate                                          Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares        I recommend this beautifully illustrated book, published in 2017, which tells the story of two cardinals who are separated when their pine tree home is cut down and carted away to serve as a Christmas tree. Red goes on an epic journey in hopes of reuniting with Lulu, and along the way he teaches us all a little something about the power of love and Christmas miracles.


Holly Calhoun, Youth Services Circulation Assistant                                Stowaway in a Sleigh by author and illustrator C. Roger Mader                        My favorite is a children’s picture book about a cat that slips into Santa’s sack on Christmas Eve.  I love cats as well as the must-see illustrations in this book.




Martha Regenbogen, Business Services Coordinator                                              The Friendly Beasts: a Little Golden Book                                                   My favorite Christmas poem is The Friendly Beasts, preferably the version put out by “a Little Golden Book”.  It is a twelfth century English carol that tells the story of what gift each beast brought to the Baby Jesus.