Gift of time and tradition

Kat McKay - Contributing columnist

Every year we all say a various rendition of the same old theme, “Christmas totally snuck up on me!” or “Before I know it Christmas was here!” — or me today, “Wait, Christmas is next week?!”

Hi, my name is Kat, and I’m a Christmas procrastinator.

In my self-defense, I come from a long line of busy people. My parents are retired and yet I can never catch them at home because they’re both still busy. My grandfather, Nicodemus, was famous for saying “Well, it keeps me going” as in any anything that kept him busy, kept him alive to the ripe old age of 96.

I can say that I come by it quite honestly. Unfortunately, it can have adverse side effects. Like that long list on pharmaceutical commercials – may cause fatigue, drowsiness, the inability to focus or hold conversations for longer than 60 seconds…

So, when I tell you that I literally didn’t get my outdoor lights finished until last night, you know I’m not lying. And no, I’m not done buying gifts, and no, obviously they’re not all wrapped under the tree.

It’s hard to do that when I just put my Amazon order in last night.

It didn’t use to be this way in my family. I was one of the lucky kids who got to gaze at the presents for a week trying to guess what they were (no shaking; Charlotte Fahrer would not allow that).

Somewhere along the way the tradition became to wrap the presents on Christmas Eve. My mom would call my brother and I in separately to wrap presents with her until we were old enough to do it on our own. Then we’d squirrel away in our rooms and make a long haul to the tree at the end of the night.

It goes without saying that this tradition has spilled over into my family now. Well, that is until I heard of Jólabókaflóðið (thank you Facebook memes).

According to Wikipedia Jólabókaflóðið is the annual flood of new books on the market in Iceland the month before Christmas.

According to the Facebook meme universe, it’s their tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve so you can spend the evening reading. Personally, I prefer the non-capitalistic version, the one where visions of cozy-ing up in front of a fireplace with a good book dance in my head.

I liked it so much so that I decided it should be my new family tradition.

It’s not easy to start a new tradition, especially when that tradition involves unlearning a lifetime of habit. But I’m a big believer that one is never too old to learn.

They say it takes 30 days to form a habit, I’m hoping since it’s just the one day (with a little prep) then I can get this one in under the wire. My own holiday rush will end when I get over hump day. Then I’ll have four glorious days to play catch-up. (I can do this, I know I can!).

Being a library manager will definitely have its perk on this — I have great access to books.

Guess what? So do you!

You don’t have to work here to get the access, all you need is your library card. Now the question remains, how you can make Jólabókaflóðið work for you?

It can be a family fun event or a great way to spend some quality me time. For family time, depending on the age, you can do a group activity or you might choose to spend the night reading and then have a little book chat before lights out.

No pressure — this is your first Jólabókaflóðið after all. If you don’t want your group activity to involve reading, but still want some story time, try listening to an audio book together.

The library has a great selection of audio books, or you can even get one on your device at home through the library Overdrive App. My personal favorite is the British comedy “Cabin Pressure at Christmas” which I know for a fact is on Overdrive because I listen to it every year.

Looking for some alone book time, well really, no holds barred on this one. Have at it, you have much to choose from!

Still too heavy? Try a Christmas Mad Libs. I’ll give you a pass so you can count it as Jólabókaflóðið. I can guarantee fun will be had by all.

The moral of Jólabókaflóðið?

In my humble opinion it’s to take some time out to stop and breath during the holiday — or should I say: Stop and read.

Kat McKay is the manager of the Clinton-Massie Branch of the Wilmington Public Library in Clarksville. She can be reached at

Kat McKay

Contributing columnist