The classic Christmas picture book that sums up the traditions, the joys, the tiny things that make a difference and the love of the family Christmas we all hope for. This book holds so many happy personal memories for me. No-one “does” Christmas quite like Shirley Hughes!
It’s Christmas, and Lucy and Tom are getting ready. There are cards to make, a tree to decorate and presents to hide. And how can you get to sleep when Father Christmas may be coming? We join this family as they prepare for Christmas, deciding on presents to buy for each member of the family, writing cards together at the big table and last minute shopping. Everything is seen from the children’s perspective and it is the quiet enjoyment of the little moments that make this wonderful book so special.
Even when I bought it for my own sons in the 1980s this had a nostalgic feel to it. Shirley Hughes has created a world where the traditional and the much loved are celebrated. I love the home made paperchains, the simple yet thoughtful presents and the posting of the letters to Father Christmas. There are some lovely touches in the illustrations that take me back to my own childhood. The multi-coloured pen for example is something I was lucky enough to receive as a present. Even the moment when poor Tom becomes a bit overwhelmed by everything and needs a comforting walk in the afternoon to sooth him feels realistic.
As a new young mum of little ones this book was a huge comfort to me. At that time magazines and newspapers used to have hideous countdown to Christmas articles which only served to make me anxious that I wasn’t “doing” Christmas quite right. Sharing this lovely book with two little boys was a whole lot more effective than any self-help manual in reassuring me and helping to keep things in perspective. I shall always be grateful to Shirley Hughes and remember Lucy and Tom’s Christmas with affection.