Do you keep hearing the worrying rumors that books are about to be displaced by electronic wizardry? I wonder. A couple weeks ago, in the TV biography of Starbucks' visionary expander, critics voiced their worries that he would displace "real" coffee. Last night, in the TV documentary on "Hippies," critics decried their radical cultural effect on authority that still ravishes our society. Somehow, despite dire predictions, hippie Steve Jobs grew up to be the establishment figure he aimed to be, while the personal computer now allows us to shop online for books and just about everything but Starbucks. We seem to exert the creative energy to preserve what we need, what we cherish, what brings meaning or enjoyment to our lives. Sometimes we need to be prodded, but a lot of us are still reading books.
One of my visual-treat purchases yesterday is Country Living's "Merry & Bright: 301 Festive Ideas for Celebrating Christmas." It's a compendium of visual prompts for those who enjoy decorating their homes in honor of the spirit and tradition of this holy day. Craft instructions and baking recipes complete the book. Yes, I know that it's a little early to be thinking about Christmas decorating. But it's occupying my mind because my daughter-in-law, who is currently staying with us since returning from Afghanistan, will be joining her husband (our middle son) on assignment in Iraq several weeks before Christmas. Happily, this Thursday she'll be meeting him in Finland to share his two-weeks' leave from Baghdad. So this year I've decided that a few early decorations, like putting up the glistening snow tree in the foyer and arranging our Finnish Tonttu and Joulupukki collections, will provide an extra cache of visual postcards and emotional talismans for her to carry with her while serving away from home. And yes, they are both powerhouse readers.