Friday, December 14, 2018

My Christmas Treasury

When I was three or four years old, I was given a copy of this book, My Christmas Treasury. It was one of my favorite books when I was little, and I read it all year long, not just at Christmas. I still remember it being around the house for my youngest sibling to read years later (I was eight and a half when he was born), but sometime after that it disappeared. I guess it may have been donated or given away, or possibly irreparably damaged after four children had enjoyed it over more than a decade.

I have a number of my other Little Golden Books from when I was very young, and always wished I could have a copy of this one for my collection because I had loved it so much. I decided to see if I could find a copy, and it took a bit of searching, but I finally found one on Etsy and ordered it for myself right away. I think I paid about four dollars for it (five or six if you include shipping), which is a lot more than the 49 cents marked on the cover (and it probably cost even less than that when my parents bought it, since my other Golden Books from the same era have 49 or 59 cents on the cover but also have price stickers from stores such as Kmart saying 39 cents; maybe I really am getting old). Honestly, the mark-up was worth it, even after accounting for inflation. Having a copy of this book again has been a delight, especially now that the holidays are here.

The book was published in 1976; I would have gotten my copy about 1981 or 1982. It's a collection of Christmas-related stories, poems, facts and riddles with cheerful, brightly-colored illustrations. I just love Golden Books. I have shared all of my old ones with my children and am glad to have this one to show them now, though they are getting a bit grown-up for Golden Books. The GB still likes them, though, especially when she's sick or in need of comforting. Actually, that's when I like them best myself.

In looking at this book as an adult, I see that it's fairly heavy on admonishment. I don't remember snooping around looking for presents in my house, and even now, I'm not really sure where they would have been hidden. I think maybe they would keep them in the attic. Anyway, I remember being a little mystified at the idea of presents being hidden somewhere. Not enough to go looking, however.

Several of the pieces in the book were written by an author named Kathryn Jackson, whom Google tells me was a prolific writer of Golden Books, including The Saggy, Baggy Elephant. I like the above story specifically for its description of a Christmas dinner that rabbits would enjoy: "A big roast carrot basted in sugar, mashed turnips with butter, and cranberries red and shining. And for dessert, a round pudding all lighted up, with holly on top."

And then in the middle of fanciful stories like that one, there are more sacred-themed pieces like the poem "What Can I Give Him?" by the Pre-Raphaelite poet Christina Rossetti. Later in life, when I sang in my college choir's Lessons and Carols programs, which included her beautiful carol "Love Came Down at Christmas," I had a sudden memory of her poems in this book. As a child, I had no idea how important she was to our celebration of Christmas and to literature in general, as I also learned as an English major.

What Christmas treasury would be complete without discussion of holiday traditions in other parts of the world? This is one of the best parts of the book. About 10 countries are discussed, but these are some of my favorites. I've always been intrigued by how people do things in other places and cultures, from a very young age. One thing I've always wondered about the Yule log, as discussed above; how do you save a piece from the year before? Is it a burnt piece? Where do you keep it until Christmas? These are serious questions. I could look it up, but if you do this, can you share?

Some Christmas riddles for you to ponder (click on the photo to enlarge it). The answers spell out a festive word!

This is a somewhat convoluted story wherein a polar bear cub is entrusted by Santa Claus to carry a rainbow around and drops it, whereupon it shatters into small pieces. Cub is sad, Santa cheers him up by helping him hang bits of broken rainbow on the Christmas tree. I liked this picture very much, even if the story seemed a bit weird even to preschool me.

This is the last page of the book, and looking at it now, I see that it may be one reason I love blogs so much as an adult, along with the international holiday section. The poem on this page is by Phillips Brooks, who also penned the lyrics to the carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem", clearly another literary figure with Christmas influence. I'll reproduce the poem for you here:

Christmas Everywhere
by Phillips Brooks

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
Christmas in lands of the fir tree and pine,
Christmas in lands of the palm tree and vine,
Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where cornfields lie sunny and bright!

For the Christ Child who comes is the Master of all;
No palace too great and no cottage too small.

I hope you've enjoyed this look at one of my childhood books which I am only too happy to have in my life again. Have a lovely weekend, from your friend in the high desert, where the land is brown and the sky is blue, and the mountain's peak is faintly dusted in white.


  1. What a delightful book! No wonder you loved it as a child. My husband hunted down my favorite book as a little girl and bought it for me years ago. Out of print and $40!! But so precious to hold again. Enjoy yours!

  2. I love this book too. We bought it for our daughter when she was young.

  3. I loved Golden Books and had some for our kids too. I remember this book as well - good memories!

  4. I love Golden books! what a lovely lovely one this is!!! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!!! I LOVE Christmas and learning about it! Part of this book reminded me of a book that I found surprisingly good that I read a few years ago (about Christmas traditions) - "Christmas Spirit" by the
    Publisher: Gramercy (August 21, 2001)

    thanks again for this lovely blog post, I really enjoyed it! :)

  5. Thank you for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Happy Christmas

  6. I'm sure I've come across that book at some point. I do have a few Golden Books that I've saved. The illustrations are just so lovely, different from what you find today. Have a wonderful weekend.

  7. It's funny that Saint Nicholas should show up in a Christmas themed book... although I can see why, too, with the presents.. However, Saint Nicholas ( Sinterklaas, in Dutch ) is celebrated on December 5th. Funny to read about the wooden shoes, though you barely see them around here, defenitely not in cities. Usually Sinterklaas "arrives" on a Saturday mid-November, the 17th it was this year, and on that day, plus the following Saturdays, we were allowed to put our shoe at the door ( originally it was at the fireplace, but when central heating arrived... ), with a carrot for Saints' horse. Next morning we would find a little something in it, a small toy or some chocolate. The 'real' gift-giving would be on December 5th, and next day the Saint would 'leave' for Spain again.
    This also meant, that we would not exchange parcels at Christmas. Nowadays a lot of people do, or do so when the kids are older and no longer believed in Sinterklaas.

  8. There is something magic about an old childhood favourite. I have very few myself but Richard has a whole pile books that we now read with our children. Lovely. So glad you found a copy for yourself. x

  9. How lovely to have this childhood favourite in your collection once again. I had so many books as a child but they were all passed on to my cousin which I'm so sad about now, I wish I'd kept at least a few favourites. I tracked down a couple that I remember and bought them second hand a few years ago but I made sure that I kept some of Daniel and Eleanor's favourite books for them.

  10. What magical memories, glad you could hold a copy once more. Jo x

  11. Oh such a wonderful little book and thank you so much for sharing ♥♥ I still have a few from my childhood born in 1957 cherish them very much xoxo

  12. Hi Jennifer! What a sweet post. Little Golden books meant a lot to me, too. I'm so glad you found a copy of a favorite of yours.

  13. May the Christmas season fill your home with joy, your heart with love and your life with laughter.

  14. How lovely that you found a copy, it's wonderful to revisit childhood favourites and that looks like a beautiful book. CJ xx

  15. I'm so glad you found a copy of this book that brought back so many lovely memories of childhood!

  16. Wonderful that you found a copy, it is thing like this that bring us joy x

  17. I don’t recall having a special Christmas book but I did track down a copy of a small novel I read when I was about eight or nine and loved. It took years because I didn’t know what it was called or who wrote it. I’m as English as they come and I’ve never heard of that tradition with the Yule log. We had an open fire when we were children though and my parents still do and that always feels like Christmas in itself.

  18. What a lovely book to have and to stir up all your Christmas memories. I doubt there's anyone who's burnt a yule log in the UK for centuries! As far as I know, it was a massive trunk that burnt for days (presumably in a massive fire place!) but not all of it was burnt and the bit that was left was kept for the next year. There is a baked yule log – usually a chocolate swiss roll that's covered in chocolate icing and decorated to look like a log – that is popular, though. Hope you're enjoying all your festive preparations. Sam x

  19. Oh I enjoyed this immensely Jennifer - I feel like finding my own copy of the Christmas Treasury! I must admit I have bought replacements for our Golden Books which have gone missing over the years. We do however still have some from our children which our grandson has also enjoyed. Like you, I discovered Christina Rossetti as an English Major, and then her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti as an Art History Major! Absolutely love your description of New Mexico, just as I remember it from our visit in 2006. From your friend in the wide brown land with high humidity and another heatwave coming on for Christmas!


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