Day 4 of the Christmas book countdown and I have a book to share that is silly, simple, familly-filled, and has a clever take on gift-giving and expectations. Here is The Christmas Box by Eve Merriam, illustrated by David Small, 1985.
The story opens very, very early on Christmas morning. And every member of a very large family is eagerly heading downstairs, in their own unique way, to check out what presents await them under the tree. But when they all get there, one long, thin present is the only thing to be found. Perplexed, no one wants to touch it. And then the baby and cat open it to reveal a fishing rod for one of the kids. And attached to the end of the line is a present for Mother, and tied to that is one for Father. On and on it goes until everyone has a special present, even the cat. And with their one item, everyone has a merry and jolly Christmas.
This book both delights me and makes me ponder it a while. I honestly picked it up in a used sale simply because it bears the illustrator name of David Small. I love his characters and watercolor, and immensely expressive and moving style. I love how he can give a unique personality to so many characters and yet also draw them as a family.
Author Eve Merriam is a good name in books too, and here I find her style to be wonderfully simple, slightly poetic in line-length and descriptions, and also perplexing as I try to decipher if there is hidden meaning in the pages. To me, this story grasps at lessons about not expecting gifts, and the connected nature of family. It makes me think about being thrilled with receiving only one gift, even if it is an umbrella, I should still be honored, thankful and excited. This is a concept that is easily lost in our consumer culture and I love the sweet simplicity of the book to show a large family delighting in their individual gifts and being together as a family.
Hope to see you tomorrow on my 25 Days of Christmas Children’s Books countdown!