I’m joining Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.
This story takes place in a little mountain town in North Carolina.
We visited Spruce Pine this past weekend for a taste of small town mountain life, and were greeted with a flurry of large fluffy snowflakes for well over an hour. . . just enough to whet your appetite and evoke a holiday atmosphere~ ideal for the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree :-)
Set in 1918, Armistice has been declared, but Ruthie is still waiting for her father’s return to their little Appalachian town. According to the traditions of Pine Grove, it falls to Ruthie and her mother to bring home the perfect Christmas tree to donate to the town church, which the previous spring Ruthie and her father selected and marked with a red ribbon. By the light of the moon, Ruthie and her mother make the trek to cut it down & haul it home, which becomes the basis of a new town legend. Ruthie, chosen for the role of the heavenly angel in the Christmas nativity play, longs for a new dress with sleeves that look like angel wings as well as a doll with a dress trimmed in ribbon & lace. Her mother miraculously makes Ruthie’s dreams come true, despite the lack of money and cloth to make such a dress.
Author Gloria Houston was born and raised in the Ingalls community, just outside of Spruce Pine, North Carolina. Her parents were the owners of a country store for over 50 years, and she often cites her experiences at the store as inspiration for her writing.
During the Christmas season of 2003, Gloria Houston gave a gift to the small town of Spruce Pine, North Carolina~ the rights to her award-winning children’s book, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. This gift was a small miracle for this town. . .over the preceding months, Spruce Pine and Mitchell County had suffered serious economic challenges, losing thousands of textile, furniture and other manufacturing jobs to outsourcing.
From that original idea, the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree project was born. With entrepreneurial development as a primary focus, the project has created nearly 100 individual small businesses that have produced quality, handmade products as part of the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree collection. The project also serves as a scholarship tool, with a portion of royalties received from product sales used to fund a scholarship program is to combat the alarmingly low student retention rate at Mitchell High School, the only high school in the county.
Ruthie waits for her father to return by train:
“The days passed. Ruthie listened for the squeaky whistle of the little train the mountain folk called Tweetsie, as it chugged through the valley and up the mountain side.”
“Finally they saw it. Growing on the edge of a high cliff on Grandfather Mountain.”
Cinnamon Streusel Cake~ with drifts of snowy powdered sugar~
“Its green color was dark and rich. It was the perfect shape and size, its tip-tip-top pointing up to the heaven.”
“Gloria Houston’s The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Barbara Cooney, was published in 1988, and has become a seasonal classic – a touching and joyful story about courage and the power of family.”