We are wrapping up a weekend of incredible food and family fun and kicking off Christmas with a super-sized tree and thousands of twinkle lights. With a fire and fresh evergreens inside and a light dusting of snow outside, there is so much to be thankful for, including, of course, our collection of picture books.
There is one in particular that I treasure because when I read it the words and pictures take me back to the Thanksgivings of my childhood: Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, with pictures by Barbara Cooney (Puffin Books, 1979). In the first picture, when Ox-Cart Man is standing in front of his Ox, I can picture the family room in the house where I grew up. I am sitting on the floor watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I can smell the onion and celery simmering on the stovetop that will soon be mixed into the stuffing.
“He packed a bag of wool he sheared from the sheep in April,” and there is Ox-Cart Man’s daughter holding up a pair of red mittens and a pair of white mittens. I can taste the turkey I just snuck off the cutting board where my Uncle Chris is carving the bird.
The pictures of Portsmouth, the words “honeycomb” “turnips” and “peppermint candies.”
I can hear my Dad bribing us with a quarter to eat a brussels sprout and later aiming a can of whipped cream at my Aunt Niki while my brother and I beg him to go ahead and squirt it like he supposedly did so many years ago.
I can taste my Mom’s pumpkin pie. I can hear my cousin Anne on the piano, and all of us singing Christmas carols, especially Great Aunt Janet’s solo of “Five Golden Rings!”
Ox-Cart Man takes me home.
And as we continue to read it year after year, I hope that someday it will take my kids to the same place.
Finally, on this final day of Picture Book Month, remember that if you comment on this post, or any of my posts from November explaining how you celebrate picture books in your house, you will be entered into a drawing for a free book–any book that I have blogged about that is currently in print.
I will post the winner tomorrow afternoon.
Thanks for a fun, inspiring month!
Holiday-themed book reviews and gift recommendations coming soon!