December 9th, 2009
It wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t read The Book. That’s Four Midwestern Sisters Christmas Book to those of you outside the family. As I mentioned, back in the early 90s (holy cow, that was a long time ago), my mum and her sisters wrote a book about Christmas, our family, and the magic of traditions.
The “voice” of The Book is that of my Aunt Jo, and it is her writing that has shaped my own written voice over the years. Take this marvelous line from the introduction — “Esprit de corps has always run strong in our family, but at Christmas it tends to run amok.” Love it.
I was a child when The Book was written, but it has shaped my view of Christmas my whole life. The Book is why I love sledding parties and dream of living on a farm. Why singing Christmas carols is a mandatory part of any holiday gathering, and why Christmas fabric makes me feel all tingly inside, even though I can’t sew for beans. It encapsulates everything good about the holidays.
The Book enjoyed modest localized success but has been out of print for years. And yet, rarely a year goes by that one of the sisters isn’t contacted by someone who has read, and loves, The Book. Sometimes they are looking for a copy to give a family member or friend. Sometimes they just want to share their enjoyment. Like this email my aunt received a few weeks ago:
“I found your name in a Google search, and I wanted to write and thank you and your sisters for the book you published in 1991. After so many years, it still brings me great pleasure to open it each December and remember my own family Christmas through your stories. I am also one of four sisters who grew up in the Midwest, had fun and some fights, but remain very close although we are not as near as we would like. Each of the sisters owns a copy of your book. Please share with your sisters our great appreciation for your book and for sharing the values and the stories of happy families.”
What a beautiful thing.
This year, the role of The Book has become even more precious as this year, I plan to read it to my daughter. She was so tiny last year that I didn’t read more than a few passages aloud to her. But this year I hope to read most of it with her, to start introducing her to the traditions of her family.