Another magical story from my childhood Christmas book collection is called Night Tree by Eve Bunting. I still get warm feelings just looking through this book. It is one of my all time favorites.
This soft cover book is in a nice large format at 8.5 x 11", so the richly colored illustrations by Ted Rand, really came to life for me as a small child.
I love how the story starts out with this family of four all bundled up in their pick-up truck to look for their tree. I always felt like I was going along with them. On a humorous or not so humorous note, looking at this page now, I can't help but notice everyone is in the front seat and no one, including dad, appears to be wearing a seat belt!
The truck parks in the middle of the forest. The family gathers their blanket, lantern, and box, and hikes on through. Oddly, there is no snow, but it is very very cold outside. I really enjoyed how the illustrator even captured the family's breath against the cold night air. I could almost feel the night chill as we read through this.
The family notices a deer watching them. They keep quiet and finally spot their tree. The family remarks about how it has grown since last year. Then, as a child, it dawns on me that this family is not out to chop down a tree, but rather, decorate it for the holidays, or more specifically, for the animals.
It was obvious, the family had been preparing for this event for weeks, as they hang strands of popcorn and oranges and apples as ornaments. What I was not prepared for, was after the tree was decorated and the family drank hot chocolate, sang carols, and went home, the last page of the book, which took place on Christmas morning, was a beautiful awesome sight. I will not spoil it here, but I will never forget how it made me feel then. I still love this book.
I woud recommend this book for any child, especially one who loves animals.