'Will Santa Come Tonight?' puts kids in spirit of holidays

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Isabel Brown, 6, and Alexa Camill, 9, are certain Santa Claus will pay them a visit this year.

If the Peters girls had any doubts, they were put to rest at the Nov. 9 reading of "Will Santa Come Tonight?" a gentle, humorous tale about a mother reassuring her young daughter of how hard the girl tried to be good and would therefore be rewarded by Santa for her efforts.

At 6:30 tonight at Peters Township Public Library, author and retired teacher Joan Dinan will again read from her storybook while encouraging youngsters to chant the mother's frequent refrain of "really, truly, positively, absolutely without a doubt" Santa will come.

The reading will take place during the Family Ornament Night program and will conclude with an ornament-making activity for children and parents.

Mrs. Dinan's 18-page, illustrated book was inspired by the second-graders she taught for 20 years at Bower Hill Elementary School in the Peters Township School District.

The students were always afraid they had not been good enough for Santa Claus to bring them presents.

To help alleviate their fears, Mrs. Dinan had them write letters to Santa telling all the ways they tried to be better.

Students also made an eco-friendly mixture of oatmeal and crystals that they spread on their lawns to help guide Santa's reindeer to their homes.

In the book, the mother's final suggestion to her daughter is to sprinkle the "Enchanted Reindeer Treats" on the lawn before going to bed on Christmas Eve so that the glow of crystals and the aroma of oats will steer the flying reindeer to their house.

At the Nov. 9 reading at the Peters library program called "Keep Believing Holiday Storytime," most of the 35 children attending sang carols and rang bells before the storytelling.

Lexi Pirosko, 9, one of Mrs. Dinan's three granddaughters who attended the program, said she likes how the girl in the story tries her best yet makes mistakes, like stuffing her clothes under her bed and dressing her dog.

"Dogs don't like to wear clothes,"" the Peters girl said.

In addition to sharing her family holiday tradition, Mrs. Dinan, of Peters, said she is proud of her partnership with Goodwill Southwestern Pennsylvania, whose participants learn work-related skills as they assemble the oat mixture that is sold with her book and shrink-wrap the completed product.

Surabhi Flipse of Peters attended the Nov. 9 reading with daughter Safina, 1, who shook bells during the group's rendition of "Jingle Bells."

"As soon as it turns November, I get in the holiday spirit," her mother said.

Registration is required by noon today for tonight's program.

To register, call 724-941-9430 and ask for Linda in the children's department.

The hardcover storybook and gold satchel of reindeer treats can be purchased for $24.99 at www.enchantedreindeertreats.com, Amazon.com or Facebook.com/enchantedreindeertreats.

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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