Winter has so many aspects that I love. While I don’t care for the longer nights and sometimes dreary cold for their own sake, I do appreciate the juxtaposition they create with the indoors. How cozy wintry weather makes home seem! I love cuddling up with a book in a warm house with a cup of cocoa when it’s cold outside. I love the colors of snow, ice, evergreens, holly bushes, migrating birds, and Christmas decorations. One of my favorite parts of winter is singing and listening to Christmas carols, and I am always tempted to break family tradition and listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, in spite of my sister’s objections.
What truly makes winter wonderful, though, is Christmas and the story of Christ’s birth which we celebrate during this season. Christmas is a story that mankind has been commemorating since before it even had the name “Christmas” or the date December 25th. This true story began with Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds and for over two millennia has continued with the young and old, men and women, around the world. We continue to celebrate it in many ways, from decorations and traditions to music, movies, and books. And as is my tradition, here are three Christmas books I have discovered over the past year.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales / Dylan Thomas (illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman)
This children’s book is my most recent Christmas discovery. A Child’s Christmas is essentially a collection of Christmas memories and scenes. Dylan Thomas writes in a very poetic, stream of consciousness style that is sometimes confusing and at other times creates a vivid picture of what is happening. The book captures the quirky, unfiltered reality of life at Christmastime in Wales. However, although I appreciate the realism and the artistry Thomas displays, the content and tone don’t seem to suit a young audience. While the book is packaged as a children’s story, contains “child” in its title, and follows a child’s perspective of Christmas, I think adults would appreciate the story more because of its complex writing style and nostalgic tone. That said, I would definitely recommend the book for its art. Trina Schart Hyman is one of my favorite children’s illustrators, and her artwork fills the story with character, expertly bringing to life the scenes Dylan Thomas paints with words.
The True Gift / Patricia MacLachlan
Liam and Lily are visiting their Gran and Grandpa for Christmas. When Liam finds out that their grandparents’ pet cow no longer has her donkey friend, he worries that White Cow will be lonely and sets out to find her a new companion for Christmas. This story resonates my Christmas memories and family visits in surprising ways. From making snowmen cookies with red cinnamon buttons to debating how many books to pack for vacation, Liam and Lily’s experiences are funnily similar to my own. I found this little book charming and hope you do as well!
The Christmas Tree / Julie Salamon
What’s your Christmas tree story? Mine isn’t all that glamorous. First, my father or brothers climb into the attic and haul down the artificial tree (version 3.0 since I’ve been around). Then, my mother, siblings, and I shake the dust off the needles (and shake off some needles too) and spread the stiff branches. After swathing the tree in strings of lights, topping it with an angel, bedecking it with ornaments, and swaddling it in a rug and a pile of presents, the journey is done.
Keeping this in mind, you can imagine my surprise and curiosity when I discovered in The Christmas Tree a story about the journey of perhaps the most famous Christmas tree in the world. I had never thought much about where the famed Rockefeller Center Christmas tree comes from each year. But in a beautiful story filled with fascinating characters, sweet illustrations, and Christmas themes, Julie Salamon crafts a delightful Christmas narrative that gives me a whole new perspective on Christmas trees. I would say more, but it’s been a while since I read the book—and I want you to enjoy it for yourself!
Do you have a favorite Christmas book? Or have you discovered any new ones this year? I would love to hear from you in the comments.