"Christmas has always been a treasured time in my family. When I was growing up, my sister Ruble, the storyteller of our family, often spoke of a very special Christmas that took place when my father was working as a miner and our family was living in the town of Benham, Kentucky. I think back and wonder how, on a coal miner's wages and with so many mouths to feed, Papa and Mama managed to make that holiday both memorable and meaningful. The family never forgot the magic of that special Christmas." ~Hazel Cole Kendle
The Coles are a family of eleven in the winter of 1920. Mama and Papa Cole are raising nine children on a coal miner's salary. Money may be in short supply but there is plenty of love to go around. When a big catalog full of every item you can think of arrives, the children all write letters to Santa to tell him the one thing in the catalog that they would like the most. They all know that Mama & Papa can't afford fancy presents but it almost doesn't matter, the choosing and dreaming are so much fun.
As the Christmas season arrives, everyone is very excited about the big Christmas party thrown by the mining company on Christmas Eve. It is a fun and festive time, the highlight of the year, and the whole town participates. When a blizzard interrupts the event, Mama Cole and the kids head back up to their mountain cabin while Papa Cole must stay in town to work.
When the children awaken on Christmas morning they are relieved to find their Papa at home after being out in the blizzard all night. The presence of their father and the special gifts that are received that morning will show the family the true meaning of Christmas and they will cherish the memory all of their lives.
This wonderful story gives us a little glimpse into Christmas past, into a world long gone but whose values and dreams need to be remembered today. The chapter lengths are just right for reading aloud one chapter a night and the beautiful illustrations by Jenniffer Julich go perfectly with the story.
As I was reading, I was strongly reminded of The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder that were a beloved favorite of mine as a child. You will find the same strength of character, the rewards for hard work, the love of family, in this book.
I especially like the last page which shows a photograph taken of the Cole family in 1919, in front of their mountain cabin in Kentucky. "There are five living generations and 165 direct descendants of Mama and Papa Cole."
This book would make a delightful holiday gift for children of all ages.
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Cole Family Christmas is published by Next Chapter Press. ISBN 978-0-9816265-0-5
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