Beginning on the first day of December and continuing through today my sister Kelly and my brother-in-law Chris gave my nephew Harrison one new book every night, which they'd read with him after he unwrapped it. Before the month began Kelly asked me to suggest a few of my favorite children's book titles and I did. I then asked her if I could provide the last book, the Christmas Eve book, and she said I could. Although I have a great many favorite books from my childhood, I decided to give Harrison The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's story about a pilot who meets a young prince while stranded in the Sahara desert following a plane crash. It's kind of a long story and a little bit complicated and probably not ideal for a one-year-old, but it's beautifully written and the illustrations are delightful and I hope that one day Harrison will count it among his favorites, too.
In the very beginning of The Little Prince, even before the actual story starts, Saint-Exupéry, the book's author, dedicates his work to a lifelong friend and then expounds on why he has done so.
TO LEON WERTH
I ask children to forgive me for dedicating this book to a grown-up. I have a serious excuse: this grown-up is the best friend I have in the world. I have another excuse: this grown-up can understand everything, even books for children. I have a third excuse: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs to be comforted. If all these excuses are not enough, then I want to dedicate this book to the child whom this grown-up once was. All grown-ups were children first. (But few of them remember it.) So I correct my dedication:
TO LEON WERTH
WHEN HE WAS A LITTLE BOY
Inspired by Saint-Exupéry's dedication, which I love so very much, I penned the following note inside of my nephew's copy.
December 24, 2015
In the dedication of this book, which you’ll find four pages from now, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote:
All grown-ups were children first. (But few of them remember it.)
My wish for you this Christmas is that you remember the magic of your childhood always. I wish that you remember all of the things that made you laugh and few of the things that made you cry. I wish that you remember how much you love books and dancing and your Paka. I wish that you remember the warmth of your mother's hugs, how truly silly your dad can be and the goodness of your grandmothers, who we lost this year. Mostly though, I wish for you an adulthood that echoes your youth, with at least as much laughter and twice as much love.
Merry Christmas munchkin.
I would like to mention, for the sake of my own records, that I penned the above inscription while babysitting Harrison so that his parents could attend Christmas Eve mass. We played "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon, at his request, on a loop and jumped around the living room of my parents' condo until my legs grew tired. Then we ate pretzels and watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas while snuggled together in my mom's favorite blanket.