For the second year, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Susquehanna Valley Rev. Ann Keeler Evans and Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Carol Parenzan are inviting neighbors to join them along an indoor “book river,” scheduled to flow at 11AM on Saturday, December 8, at the UUCSV Church at 265 Point Township Drive (Route 11) in Northumberland.
“When my family gathered together each Christmas season,” explains Evans, “we read together. Sometimes aloud, sometimes in our own books, but we always read. It was tradition.”
Although Evans’ family reading experience was an annual expectation for her, it isn’t one normally considered tradition here in the United States on Christmas Eve, outside the reading of the standard ’Twas the Night before Christmas.
Elsewhere, however, words flow easily as Christmas approaches. Iceland celebrates Jolabokaflod, also known as the Winter Book River, at which families and friends gather to exchange books on Christmas Eve, to then retreat to the warmth of their homes to read by candle- and firelight.
“Both water and books have been an escape for me from the busy-ness of daily life,” explains Parenzan, who often finds herself sitting by the water with a book in hand. “Bringing the two together for a winter event that we can share with our friends brings a double dose of warmth and holiday joy.”
Everyone – young and old – is invited to participate by bringing one or more books of any genre to donate to the book river. “We encourage you to add a personal inscription to each of your donations,” says Parenzan. “Please share why this particular book has special meaning for you. You can gift not only the book but also a part of yourself.”
Unwrapped books will be received at 11AM. Participants will receive a “river card” for each incoming book. These cards will then allow them to select an equal number of new-to-them books to take home and enjoy over the holiday season. The UUCSV Book Club and the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Nature Book Group will lay out the books so participants can choose their book for the holiday.
While organizers are forming the river flow, everyone else will gather to share in a storytelling experience, facilitated by the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble’s own Laurie McCants. She has a MidWinter Tale to tell, Evans has a few mid-winter poems to recite, and there may be other folks with something to delight us as well.
Upon its conclusion, everyone will then proceed to the book river to make their selections. Registration is not required.
“We hope you’ll come and bring your children,” Evans says. “We want children to learn that books are not only a delight to give but a delight to receive. And we’re asking you all to consider bringing a children’s book in your pile because all children deserve the gift of a book at the holidays. Any books that are left over will go to Head Start or another group who will make sure they get sent out into the community.”
For more information, please contact Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Carol Parenzan at 570-768-6300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.