Maryfran Stulginsky recounts her family tradition and its origins in her simple and delightful picture book Going for the Christmas Tree: A True Story.
Going for the Christmas Tree begins with Stulginsky’s parents finding their first Christmas tree, years before, at the May family’s Christmas tree yard. Every year, the parents continue the tradition of picking a Christmas tree from May’s, even following the May family to a lot in a shabby neighborhood and driving from as much as two hours away. Children are born and the tradition expands as family and friends come along to pick their own trees, and they all grow closer to the May family.
Stulginsky’s text is graceful but straightforward, as when she describes one of her parents’ journeys to the May’s tree lot: “May’s new location hardly seemed the place for a couple from the suburbs to shop for their Christmas tree. In fact, many of our parents’ friends thought they were foolish, making this annual trip. But they must have sensed something special there because going to May’s became part of our family’s life.”
Kenn Yapsangco’s illustrations are expressive and tell the tale well. On two separate pages, as well as the cover, one background is repeated, but aside from this small distracting element, the pictures work well.
The book ends with the tradition happily continuing, as shown by a photograph of the most recent May’s tree, decorated at home, and a group photo that appears to be of the entire contingent of Stulginsky and May families, along with friends and workers (there is no caption).
Not only does Going for the Christmas Tree make for a pleasant holiday tale, it’s also a reminder that family traditions can be born from anything and joyfully maintained throughout the years.