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Monday, December 3, 2012

What comes first, the book or the tree?

I love holidays - there's something about them that gets me all camp counselor.  Not only do I want to make/bake/sing things, I want everyone around me to do it too.  I'm very proud of the fact that due (at least in part) to my persuasive nature, I've never worked in an office where anyone successfully opted out of Sneaky Snowman (the Secret Santa of the new millennium).  As December slips in this week it's the first time I'm kind of missing (and that's a seriously lower-case "missing") work and the thrill of putting a weird gift in someone's mailbox.

Admittedly some of my traditions have started to get a little stale. Last year I ran out of worthy songs for my annual "A Very Julie Christmas" mix and had to instead compile the album "10 reasons to be glad you don't celebrate Christmas" made up of the most awful x-mas songs I could find, including that Dear Mr. Jesus song that came out when I was in 5th grade about the abused kid and the one about the cat that freezes to death to save the mouse.  Strangely, no one ever requested a copy - please let me know if you're interested.

So to get myself in the mood this year, a friend and I hit the Family Trees Exhibit at the Concord Museum.  They've got over thirty trees, each one decorated along the theme of a children's book - everything from the Owl and the Pussycat to The Stinky Cheese Man, some of them even decorated by the authors themselves (including Salley Mavor's Pocketful of Posies, which is what drew me in the first place).  A copy of the book is propped up next to the tree so you can read it while sitting in front of the tree if you want.  If you live in the area I would highly recommend a visit.

I first learned about this fabulous exhibit here at Salley's site (and you should totally check out her post because all I had was a phone and a squirming little one, so my few photos are almost not worth uploading).  But here are a couple of my favorites:



This is the Julia Child tree based on a children's book about her cat, Minette's Feast and yes, that is a stuffed kitty with a pearl necklace on its head sitting on top of Julia's cookbooks.

And this one based on The Giving Tree was covered in tiny black and white photos of trees and people with trees that somehow made it just as melancholy as the book itself:



I was just in love with the whole thing.  


So this got me thinking - how fun would it be to have a literary holiday tradition where you decorate a mini-tree with your kid inspired by their favorite book of the year?  What?  You think Miss J is too young to have a favorite book?  I will admit, we got off to a rocky start with the whole reading thing.  She kept eating them, causing frantic re-writes:


But recently she's gotten into reading them to herself  and she DOES have a favorite, called Vegetables by Sara Anderson. 




It's a fairly nuanced story, but she's pretty sophisticated for her age.


So I  got some lights, and an itty-bitty Charlie Brown style tree and some construction/tissue paper and made some vegetable ornaments.  I have to say, they came out pretty well considering I draw about as well as I sing.







I did a peach for the topper.  While it's not featured in Vegetables, a peach does show up in the prequel to Vegetables, Fruit.  The "Peach Fuzzy Hair" page in Fruit is one of the reasons J doesn't really like to read it - we think baby head rubbing is totally funny and I'm secretly hoping if she hates it enough she might grow some hair to make us stop.

And here we are all lit up:



...and she sees the peach.




So here's to new traditions and the hope that J never picks Fast Food Nation or 127 Hours as her favorite book of the year.

4 comments:

  1. If you draw as well as you sing, you serious underestimate your singing ability.

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    1. Oh Scotty, I'd recognize your compliments anywhere!

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  2. At first I felt badly because your baby loves veggies so much she reads about them, while my kids cry at the sight. But then I noticed Miss J also prefers sitting on a cold, hard floor to lounging on a gorgeous handmade quilt, so...

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    1. She just doesn't like anything to obscure her view of the quilt.

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