Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Diane Goode
2002, The Blue Sky Press
Doing this series has been a lot of fun and has introduced me to some new and interesting books, many of which I will certainly revisit. I think being the last day, however, is even more reason to finish with full festiveness, a little looking back, and a little looking forward.
Christmas in the Country is written by the prolific and varied Cynthia Rylant. It is told from the point of view of someone who lived with her grandparents when she was a little girl. It basically just describes what Christmas was like for her then, from bringing home the tree to taking it down.
My favourite thing about this book is the extremely relatable details, such as how the mismatched and homemade ornaments remind her of her whole life, or how they always got a tree that was a little too big and so they had to squeeze round it in the living room, but how it was the prettiest thing they had.
Or how they put their wet boots and gloves near the stove to dry, and how the dogs all bark at the commotion of Christmas Day. The overall impression is one of appreciation for the little details of life which we often take for granted as adults. The natural, lively and expressive illustrations really enhance this.
Another reason I wanted to recommend this book for today is that many people feel a bit gloomy after the holidays. Even though my family will be leaving our tree up (and squeezing round it in the living room) for a while yet, and the time of “cocoa and blankets” will continue for months to come, there will be a time when we have to pack up the ornaments, and sweep up the fir needles.
But this book, in the beginning and the end, reminds us of all the other things there are to look forward to in the year: “spring walks and summer tomatoes and fall apples,” and then Christmastime again!
I hope your holidays were something special and your New Year continues to be so.
12 Days of Books 2017/18