Know what I really like about this book aside from the beautiful Amy Bradley art work and delightful font? The opportunities to reminisce about my own fond memories of childhood Christmases that’s what. Every single page gives an opportunity for the kids to tell us about their Christmases which even made me stop to think about – and share – my own experiences with the children listening intently: heads tilted, mouths soft. How nice is that? Like my own Nanna’s tatty, thrown-together little tree that nowadays would be considered très bijou I’m sure. So kooky and pretty and unique in fact, that I try (miserably) to emulate it year after year. Remember lametta? And baubles bound in cotton satin thread? And the family traditions we picked up along the way: like the sweetie filled Santa boots for St Nicholas Day; the time spent making paper chains from newspaper (not fancy coloured strips you can buy pre-packed these days) whilst listening to carols played by the Salvation Army Brass Band – Grandad’s favourite music; baking mince pies and drizzling runny icing over the top; being able to open just one gift on Christmas Eve after our bath but it had to be one from Nanna (it was always a box of crunchy sherry or kirsch cherry liqueurs – naughty Nanna). We didn’t actually like them but how very grown up my 2 sisters and I felt. Sadly though, we were only allowed to eat one but we still pretended to feel tipsy. And still to this day I buy a bottle of QC sherry just for Christmas because it was my Nanna’s favourite tipple and, perhaps unsurprisingly, I actually love those liqueurs now.
Naturally, the children loved to tell me about what they do at home for Christmas too. The sparkly oats for the reindeer snack. The snowy footprints from the fireplace to the tree. The elf on the shelf and the fairy door in the skirting board. Magical new traditions they’ll no doubt perpetuate for their own children one day. This book appeals to all the senses – it really does. The smells, tastes, sounds, textures and prettiness of it all. It will make you feel sad at times and happy at times but boy! what a gorgeous opportunity to talk about family & friends (some sadly departed), home & traditions and phew! did it take a long time to get to the end. But, best of all, I really, really like it because it’s a Christmas story without religion and without commercialism: a contemporary book with traditional values. Yes, a delightful book from beginning to end.