At first, I was not really into Home for Christmas by Susan Branch. I was wondering, “Where is Jim-Bob and John-Boy?” The cute hand-written text, the mix of illustrations and black and white photographs left nothing to the imagination. You knew the emotions the author wanted and where they were taking you. But then I was, “That’s not so bad. I mean it is nice not to have anything really bad happen. They are growing up poor, but they do not care/really know it, as they have a nice home, good family and excuse me, do they think they are an army with all that food?”
Well, yes. There were eight children and two parents. The story mostly takes place during the mid-1950s when there were still only six children (our author the oldest, four brother, and the baby, Paula, who was the first girl after Susan. Two more sisters followed). And when you get to this partial Christmas, we add one Grandmother and two 20-something uncles (and having had 20-something uncles myself, I know that yes, there were 8 children there).
So, to say things are cozy is not an under-or-over statement. Everything is cozy. We see how Susan was the “little mama” of the group by helping take care of Paula, the dolls that were popular (Betsy Wetsy I knew, the others, though popular, I did not), and we see the boys (except youngest ones) go out with dad to get the tree, Susan helping her mom and Grandmother in the kitchen. The typical 1950s scene.
And that is what it is all about. Well, there is a lesson about assuming what your gifts were, instead of coal the burnt cookie for naughty kids, and the intro that started the idea of the story. The afterwards continues the cozy theme. It is just a nice story about one person and her family. Classic material? Maybe not, but it could be a fun tradition for the holiday.