I first read Alice Taylor’s collection of stories when I was in my early 20s and lived in Nashville. Over the years, I’ve made time each December to re-read the book. In those 20-plus years, the story of Taylor’s Christmas traditions has become one of my Christmas traditions.
Taylor’s book is a collection of stories about Christmas traditions from the year she was 9 years old. The setting is rural Ireland in the mid-1940s and the memories of our 9 year old narrator are balanced by an author now in her mid-50s, reflecting with fondness and affection on the traditions of her childhood.
The story is sentimental, but never cloying. At various points, it’s funny. Written by an adult reflecting on her 9 year old self, it captures the arc of a lifetime of holiday memories. There is great charm in remembering the magic of childhood. Over the years that I’ve read these stories, I’ve remembered my own childhood Christmas memories, planned Christmas treats that will become JT’s holiday memories, and thought about what I value most about holiday traditions.
I read the book to JT when he was still a believer. When he sees me re-reading the collection each December, he recalls the best moments of the stories as he experienced them. We still laugh about a scene caused by a cat and repeat the phrase, “where did that frigger of a cat come from?” as we remember. I like the fact that Alice Taylor’s stories of Christmas have become part of my family’s traditions during the holidays.