Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Most Favorite Book of All Time

I hate those questionnaires that ask: "What's your favorite book/movie?"

As if.

As if I could decide on only ONE. It's like Sophie's Choice. I cannot choose! I cannot choose!

But this year at Christmas it finally hit me. I've had this book since I was five:

I still write my name in the front of my books, but back then I was a bit more enthusiastic about dotting my "i"s.

My mom used to buy these Whitman Tell-A-Tale books for a quarter at the grocery store, probably just to shut me up so she could get done with her shopping. Moms all over the world are familiar with this tactic, but how many great things like this can you find anymore for (published price) 29 cents?
Scotch tape. I'm sure all book preservationists use it.

Can you see the little mouse curled up under the tree? Definitely not stirring.

I have taken this book out every year on Christmas Eve to read to my kids, and this year was no exception. My oldest son, 17, and my youngest, 13, still sat all the way through, and my husband listened along, too.
The illustrations were done by an artist named Florence Sarah Winship. I have a few more books featuring her artwork, and after a precursory internet search, I can't find any information on her, other than she was born in Indiana and lived in Illinois. But what great detail! I really though that sugarplums must look like This. At least they should, anyway. I looked up real sugarplums online, and they're not nearly as pretty. Not to mention there are images labeled "sugar plum" that have absolutely nothing to do with either sugar or plums....
Aww...the snowman is sleeping. And check out the twisted mustache on Papa.
And her Santa is such a, well, jolly old elf. 
I love the Nordic-looking boots with braided trim, and the little bell at the end of his stocking cap. 
See the oranges? In Victorian times an orange would have been a special treat, since they would have come a long distance, and shipping freight then wasn't quite as streamlined as it is today. For an excellent example of this, Kirsten Dunst has a great film moment of orange appreciation in Little Women.
Solving the age-old question of "How does he get back up the chimney?"
The old finger-aside-of-the-nose trick.
("It wasn't a pick, it was a scratch!")
Anyone who gets that reference gets a cookie.
It's just such a happy, lovely Christmas tradition.
I hope this book never gets lost or destroyed, and that someday my boys can read it to their children.
Someday.
Far, far in the future.

If you have a favorite holiday book or tradition, I'd love to hear it, in the comments section.

I hope your holiday was happy, and filled with food, family, laughs and love.
Merry Christmas.

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