elmo’s christmas tail
We went to the local pub this weekend and picked a Christmas tree (as you do in London) and Joe hoisted it up onto his shoulder and walked it home and now the house smells of spruce and dried orange slices and I dare say, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas over here. It’s not a full tree yet, you know, like the one in your mom’s living room brimming with Christmas cheer, filled with a lifetime’s worth of family ornaments. No. Ours isn’t that tree yet. That kind of tree takes years to dress. Ours is… minimalist. White fairy lights, pinecones collected on random hikes, felt acorns that I made years ago, dried orange slices and a couple of baubles bought over the years. At the top of the tree is a ball of bunched-up fairy lights because the strand was too long and I couldn’t just leave it hanging there. Forget the tree-top star, ours is an entire galaxy.
I used to love Christmas when I was a kid. I remember one year all of us going for a walk in the woods in search of the perfect Christmas tree, like something out of a Chevy Chase movie. But generally, it was dad’s job to get the tree in mid-December (it took us years to convince mom to buy a tree earlier than the week before Christmas) and when he got home, mom would put the Christmas music on and get the boxes of ornaments out of the closet. I loved going through those boxes. We each had our favourite ornaments that we liked to hang. There was the wooden bell that I painted in second grade, with messy green paint spilling far outside the lines, the bauble that looked like a crystal from Narnia, the fabric bird that mom sewed with sequins for eyes, ornaments from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, where it’s Christmas 361 days a year. And, of course, the braided wreath, an 80’s staple.
I’m not going to lie to you, Christmas lost of a bit of its charm when I first moved to England. The Christmases here are never white and I was a million miles from home, from family. But now that I have a little family of my own, I’m keen to create special holiday traditions for Wren. Starting with The Night Before Christmas, the book mom used to read to us every single Christmas eve without fail and still does if we happen to be gathered, which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.
Wren loves books. She loves flap books and touchy-feely books, board books, picture books, books with stars and ladybirds and dogs, books with lullabies, books that make noise, books that don’t. Books, books, books. But she also has a limited attention span so I don’t think we’d get much further than visions of sugar plums dancing in kid’s heads before another book caught her attention. Or she’d get fixated on the reindeer, calling them dogs over and over again. Or she’d keep calling old St-Nic dada… over and over again.
I think next year will be the year to introduce her to my childhood Christmas book. But until then, I’ve found the perfect festive tale to read to her on the lead-up to her second Christmas. It’s called Elmo’s Christmas Tail, written by my dear friend Tammy Johnston.
It’s a heartwarming story with enchanting illustrations about the true magic of Christmas kindness. It had a bit of a dark twist to it, reminiscent of the fairy tales of yore, but the ultimate message is that it hopefully teaches children to look after one another — an important Christmas, and 365-day-a-year, message. Wren LOVES it. Tammy designed the cover, drew the illustrations and wrote it herself. It’s a proper homemade book, inspired by her English garden and the farm she grew up on in Dorset, surrounded by woodland and animals.
It’s a wonderful Christmas fairytale and would make a great Crimbo present for big and small. If you would like a sneak peak, here is a short video of the book, narrated by none other than Laurence Fox and produced by Mike Barrett, with an original music score by Lorne Balfe! And if you want the real deal, you can purchase a copy on Amazon.
Tammy also has a few book readings/signings in London if you would like to meet her. She, herself, is like a Christmas elf. The sweetest, kindest, childlike soul I’ve ever met. She’s like a bright star that you can’t help but be drawn to. You can find her at Maggie & Rose on the 15th of December, 10.30 at the Chiswick Branch and 3.00 at the Kensington branch.
Hope you’re all feeling festive and cozy this month. Hope the lights in your home are twinkling and that everything smells like Christmas cookies and that your hearts are filled with gratitude for the love of family and good friends.