Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

Think on th' eternal home,
The Saviour left for you;
Think on the Lord most holy, come
To dwell with hearts untrue:
So shall ye tread untired His pastoral ways,
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.

--from Keble's The Christian Year, Thoughts in Verse



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tasha Tudor Christmas, Part 2

Talk about coincidence! Just yesterday, I wrote that if you saw a Tasha Tudor book for sale cheap, you should grab it, because they are hard to find and very collectible.

Last night I got a phone call from my sister-in-law who was reporting that she had found a Tasha Tudor picture book at a small local thrift shop for $1.00! I can't remember which title it was, unfortunately. When she brought it to the counter, the proprietor recognized it and began lamenting, "Oh, I sure missed this one! It's worth a lot more than a dollar!" etc. It was plain she was hoping to play on my sister-in-law's conscience, to make her feel guilty enough to hand the book over and relinquish her intention to buy it. Fortunately, she is made of sterner stuff than that and just stood silent and poker-faced and the owner eventually capitulated and rung up the book.  (All is fair in love, war, and junking.)

My favorite Tasha Tudor book is Becky's Christmas.
 My copy is a 1962 (2nd printing) hardback with ink pen markings from a previous owner. In spite of the damage, it's still a very special book, filled with wonderful artwork. The initial pages show two of Tasha Tudor's advent calendars. She made these every year for her own children. It must have been magical to have had a mother as imaginative and talented as this!
The story follows ten-year-old Becky, the youngest child of a large, family, and the activities they enjoy leading up to Christmas Day itself, when she receives a wonderful gift her family has been working together to make for her. (I won't spoil it by telling what she receives!) They have so many interesting traditions. After reading this book, we adopted some of them ourselves.



It's such a treasure of a book. 46 pages long, and quite a bit of text.

Another of her Christmas books I love is The Dolls' Christmas. My copy is in abysmal condition, but that an indication of how well-read and well-loved it has been. The cover is missing, and several of the pages are loose. Oh, well!

This sweet story is told from the point of view of two large old dolls named Sethany Ann and Nicey Melinda, and the two little girls who play with them.
The dolls were extremely fortunate for they had a house all their own, which was named Pumpkin House... Every year at Christmas Sethany and Nicey had a dinner party and a Christmas tree of their own, and after dinner they had a marionette show given especially in their honor...


This book was originally published in 1950, but has been reprinted from time to time (my own copy is a paperback I bought new in the 1980s) so you may be able to find a copy of this one

I also have a Tasha Tudor-illustrated copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, A Child's Garden of Verses, and a bound advent calendar, A Wreath of Days. Years of children opening the calendar's tabs have left it in battered condition, but it's still amazing

A related book we obtained was illustrated by Tasha Tudor, but written by her daughter, Efner Tudor Holmes, and published in 1976. It's called The Christmas Cat. I'll quote the book's summary:
 "On one cold Christmas eve, an abandoned cat and a little boy receive a bit of seasonal magic."



I'm afraid I must admit that after the first few years of reading this book aloud as written, my family began taking terrible liberties with the story and began adding rude ad-lib revisions and additions. This, too, has become a holiday tradition.

Similarly, we enjoy embellishing another Christmas classic with our own twisted humor. This one is Carl's Christmas. It's not a Tasha Tudor at all, being written and illustrated by Alexandra Day and published in 1990, but it's a mostly wordless book and thus, is entirely open to warped interpretation.
Carl is a loyal rottweiler of astonishing ability and intelligence who is left in sole charge of a baby on Christmas Eve while the parents go to church. (Okay, it's fantasy!) Naturally they get into mischief.



We always have a lot of fun taking turns with this book, each "reader" attempting to top the previous one with droll, dry dialogue and witty situations. Usually Carl attacks Santa Claus and steals the bag of presents and  the parents end up arrested for child abandonment and neglect. Still, it's great fun and the artwork in this book is terrific!  

I've got scads more Christmas books I'd love to share, and I'd sure like to hear about your family's favorites

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this little closing excerpt from The Doll's Christmas.
In Pumpkin House the dolls went to bed. "I think," said Nicey, "that Christmas is the mot magic time in all the year, not just for the pretty things you get, but for the feeling inside you of what a good place the world is to live in.  I should know for I have seen one hundred and ten Christmases!"

For more information about Tasha Tudor and many wonderful photographs of her life and home, please visit http://www.tashatudorandfamily.com
 
     

 

 

 

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