Monday, December 18, 2017

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston & Barbara Cooney

I love this book. More than a Christmas book, this is a book about sacrifices families make for the military and about good old fashioned pluckiness. 

And strength. I love how strong this momma is. 

Ruthie's house in the valley of Pine Grove. Coming on to Christmas. 

Earlier that year, her father told Ruthie it was their turn to provide a Christmas tree for the town, as each family did. He and Ruthie set out to find just the right one. 

The one they found was out on a craggy rock. They tied Ruthie's hair ribbon to the top of the tree so they would remember which tree it was when the mountains were all changed by winter and snow. 

Unfortunately, her Daddy was called up to fight in the first World War not long after that. Ruthie and Momma kept things going. 

The war was finished that November, but Ruthie's daddy wasn't on the train of returning soldiers. 

They didn't know when he would return. 

The day before Christmas Eve, the minister comes to say they will just get a tree from someone else, since they know Ruthie's father is still away. Ruthie's momma won't allow the family honor to be tarnished in that way, so she politely declines the easy way out and heads out into the moonlight with Ruthie and Old Piedy the horse to find the chosen tree. 

After a lot of walking, they finally see the tree. Away up over there. 

I may have laid down right there and died. But not these hardy women. 

They get things done. 

As the sun is rising, they drop the tree off at the church and head home. For a reason I don't really understand, the mother doesn't claim the tree. The minister comes to say it is a miracle--in the land of cedars and pines, a balsam tree was left outside the church last night. And Ruthie's momma says Imagine that! 

But whether everyone else knew or not, Ruthie and her momma would know they had done her Daddy proud. 

Ruthie goes to sleep. Her mother stays awake all day sewing Ruthie the perfect angel costume. Because whatever family gives the Christmas tree gets to have the angel part. 

Isn't this cozy? It actually was probably freezing cold. But I like the quilt.

Ruthie's tired mother sews an amazing dress. One that looks suspiciously like her wedding dress. 

The tiny angel on the top of the tree was made to exactly match Ruthie in a dress that was suspiciously similar to the silk stockings Ruthie's Daddy sent home for her Momma. 

Old Saint Nick gives her the beautiful doll. 

And that is when her Daddy comes home. 

I feel like this part is somewhat anti-climatical. It could have been so much bigger. But maybe it is just meant to be Momma and Ruthie's story. After all, they were tough enough to keep things going.

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