The Victorian Christmas Book, Antony and Peter Miall
This book was referenced so many times in The Country Diary Christmas Book that I finally hunted up a copy (which arrived appropriately on Christmas Eve). The Miall brothers use catalogs, images, and books of the time to paint us a Victorian Christmas, from the historical events leading up to the Victorian revival of the holiday as a children's festival, then to each sequence in the celebration to finally end on Epiphany. Included are pages of old magazines, gift projects, household books, original recipes, period illustrations and liberal quotes from that most Victorian of books, A Christmas Carol. Wonderful historical treat.
Re-read: The Cottage Holiday, Jo Mendel
Western Publishing's Whitman books, inexpensive hardbacks for children, published a series of books by "Jo Mendel" in the 1960s about the Tuckers, five children, stay-at-home mom as common in those days, dad who works with his own father at the town variety store, and Grandma. The children are typical for the day: sometimes helpful, sometimes moody preteen Tina, twins Terry and Merry who alternately fight and stick up for each other, quiet and often sickly Penny, who loves dolls, and five year old Tom (five going on twenty somedays). The adventures are typical for the day: solving minor mysteries, neighborhood foibles, summer days at the lake, etc.
Cottage Holiday has always been a little different: sickly Penny, who feels left out of family activities, is allowed by her doctor to go with the family to their lake cottage to spend the Christmas holidays. They have fun in the snow, help a young woman and her baby son, and face the threat of a cougar stalking nearby farm animals, but paramount to the story is Penny's search for her place in the scheme of things. It's remarkably introspective for what is supposed to be a simple children's story. It's one of the stories I read once a year for a good dose of Christmas spirit.
Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments
Nice little book about the history behind the Hallmark Keepsake Ornament line and assorted artists who created some of the most popular lines. Worth finding remaindered if you are a Hallmark collector or fan.
The Time-Life Book of Christmas
Another library acquisition that I should hunt up: oversized, lavishly illustrated in black-and-white and color, with standard sections on Christmas food, decorations, and various ethnic customs, some popularand some not-so-well-knownstories, but other sections about Christmas cards, decorations, etc. with wonderful file photos of vintage celebrations, Christmas cards, ornaments, magazine clippings, etc. The photo sections are worth the price of the book.