The Enid Blyton Society
The Christmas Book
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Book Details...

First edition: 1944
Publisher: MacMillan
Illustrator: Treyer Evans
Category: One-off Novels
Genre: Family
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Artwork
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations

Reprints


Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Treyer Evans



Cloth boards of the 1st edition



Endpapers from the 1st edition



Title page from the 1st edition
Here is a most unusual Christmas book which all children will like to have — and many grown-ups too. So says Enid Blyton on the flap and I can only agree with her. I read this book as a youngster and was completely taken into the spirit of the season with the children — Benny, Susan, Ann and Peter. It is an account of one family's Christmas experience right from when the older children arrive home for the school holidays and it is told as a story which ends on the Big Day itself. An associate of Enid Blyton — L. Brimble, helped with information as to origins and meanings of the various Christmas rituals and jolly interesting they are. Did you know — according to the book, Charles II liked loin of beef so much that he knighted it and it is now Sir Loin and if you don't believe me there's a picture of Charlie performing the ritual!

In a way, the book deals with a perfect Christmas because everything is there and many of the subjects are stimulated by the children's questions so we get all the answers. How did Christmas begin? Well, that's easy ... it was the birth of baby Jesus of Nazareth. Why is Christmas pudding called plum pudding? How did mince pies begin? Why do we have a turkey? How did Christmas cards originate? If there's no mistletoe tree, where do we get it from? Benny seems to know a little about that. "What is a Yule log?" asks Susan. Some of the questions are a bit hard for Mother so they need to wait for Daddy to come home and answer them.

The holly needs to be brought in from the garden. Not every family has a holly bush, but as I used to live in a place that had one, I know they exist. Every Christmas item has its related legend and in her 1934 booklet Round the Year with Enid Blyton (Winter), the author states that the Christmas holly custom began so long ago, we are unsure as to just how or why it started. Presumably it's L. Brimble in 1944 via the children's father who fills in a few blanks concerning the prickly green leaves and their contrasting berries.

The mistletoe comes next and throughout the book when references are made to legends which spawned the customs of today, the artist portrays all the pomp and glory with pictures of banquets, olden-time lords and ladies, people of legend, and even sacred Beings. One is of a little waif with a halo of light round his head being welcomed by a forester with a lantern — and this is a chance to tell a tiny tale covering the Christmas Tree side of things which reminds me a little of Oscar Wilde's — The Selfish Giant. Then there is the very Christmassy afternoon with a silhouette-picture of the children around a table making their own Christmas cards and I related this scene to one in a Find-Outers book (The Mystery of the Secret Room) where Christmas card-making lent a cosy atmosphere to the commencing pages. Indeed, the varied activities of the season leading up to the 25th can be almost as exciting as the Day itself. A Yule log is also part of an old-fashioned Christmas but why a Yule log? What is a Yule log? "Yule" apparently means Christmas so there is a link: In days gone by, bringing in the Yule log was a proper ceremony — singing and merry-making and all.

Can there be a Yuletide without carols? I doubt it, so the carol-singers appear on the doorstep and a song they perform is one which I learned from this book because all the words are there. How I managed to remember all of it is a mystery because there are eight verses! I didn't get around to learning I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In or Hark the Herald Angels Sing or The First Nowell, but Good King Wenceslas was the one which is filed away in my memory and can still be recalled right to this day. Then there are the mummers who call on the various houses at Christmas time to perform their little plays. I doubt if this still happens but the book is from the early Forties so maybe, round that time, mummers did visit the family at Green Hedges and other homesteads around England.

Next, the children are taken back a couple of thousand years or so and treated to an Enid Blyton version of The Christmas Story. We know that it will be thoroughly enjoyed and its 30+ pages are almost a mini-book in which the relating of events in and around Nazareth and Bethlehem does not pall in the slightest. Then there is a simply marvellous encounter late in the night of Christmas Eve which surely has been the subject at one time of every childhood dream.

This wonderful book can be further reviewed with Ann's words: "Christmas presents and Christmas pudding and a turkey (poor turkey) and crackers and Christmas trees. What a lovely time!" Then there is: The tree lighted in the hall — the candles burning with a soft, glowing light. The ornaments glittered and swung, the frost and tinfoil glistened like real frost and ice. The star shone at the top over the fairy doll. Says Ann: "I wish someone would write a book and put into it all the things we know about Christmas time."

It Came To Pass!

Finale: Glory To God In The Highest; And On Earth Peace, Goodwill Towards Men.
I think they used real candles in those smoke-alarmless days so there must have been quite a risk. In fact how they attached them upright to the tree is, to me, a mystery.

The atmosphere created by this book made me think of the lovely old Christmas cards which featured a snowy scene with a red-breasted robin perched on a twig outside the latticed window through which one can see the Christmas tree and the grate in which a log fire is burning.

Treyer Evans, one of the better Blyton artists, drew the illustrations and I think they capture the spirit very adequately indeed. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.