A Perfect Christmas Book & Giveaway


The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree **** by Gloria Houston



I’m reposting my review of The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, that I shared last December for Food for Thought.  A book and seasonal treat that encompasses the true spirit of Christmas and a heartwarming story!


This story takes place in a little mountain town in North Carolina.

We visited Spruce Pine the beginning of  December last year, 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.



 Following Gloria Houston’s gift to the town of Spruce Pine, I thought it would be fitting to make a gift of this sweet book with  beautiful illustrations by two-time Caldecott Medal winner Barbara Cooney!



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.”


 If you’d like a chance to win a copy of The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree for your personal Christmas library, leave a comment telling me your favorite Christmas book~ winner will be chosen by random number generator on December 15th~ just in time for Christmas!



The winner of my dish and throw giveaway is Sarah from Hyacinths for the Soul!

Congratulations Sarah~ email me with your address and I’ll get your items in the mail!



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  31 comments for “A Perfect Christmas Book & Giveaway

  1. December 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Oh, Mary. I was entranced in your lovely post of this beautiful heartfelt story, absorbing each glorious image, savoring the thought of that snow capped cake ~ when I see my name! I can’t believe that this set of exquisite dishes will come to grace the table here at HFTS. You are too generous! Thank you, thank you!
    I’m happy you are sharing this story again. I so miss the amazing posts both you and Jain created for us through Food for Thought. You two reading, cooking, creating ~ I can’t wait till it begins again!
    Sending you an email next. ;-)
    My sincere Thank You! ~ Sarah

  2. Pondside
    December 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Congratulations to Sarah! I can’t think of a better home for that lovely gift!
    My favorite Christmas book is The Mitten, by Jan Brett. I love the illustrations – there’s something new to see every time I read the book to a little one.

  3. DMilton
    December 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is still my favorite Christmas book (other than Luke 2) although I would love to read the one about which you have posted because it sounds very touching.

  4. December 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Come to think of it — I don’t have a favorite Christmas book. So maybe “The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree” will become my favorite Christmas book after all. Thanks for the look inside and all the great photos.

    Greetings from Germany,

  5. Debra C
    December 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    My favorite is The Night Before Christmas. I read this to my children on Christmas Eve and now my daughter reads it to my grand babies.

  6. afoodie
    December 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Another perfect post….you’re spoiling us, we will come to expect nothing less! Of all the blogs I’ve EVER read yours has to be the finest! Jackie

  7. Laura Leigh
    December 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Hey there – Hard to pick a favorite, but going to go with The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey…by Susan Wojciechowski…. (Don’t need another book on my shelf, but couldn’t resist giving a plug for this book..) Hope yall are doing well – Need to call you soon! LL

  8. December 10, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    This is amazing Mary! What a beautiful post!

  9. Debbie@Mountain Breaths
    December 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    The photos from Spruce Pine are beautiful Mary! The cookie cake has my mouth watering ;o)

  10. December 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Your post was so heartwarming. I like the Christmas books written by my favorite author, Debbie Macromber. Her stories are so wholesome and heartfelt. I would dearly love to win your book. I am an avid reader and I love the mountains of NC. I absolutely love reading your posts and trying your recipes

  11. December 11, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Mary, thank you for sharing this post again. I LOVE it! Congratulations to Sarah.

  12. December 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Dickens “A Christmas Carol” is my first thought but I also love “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” which really cannot compare to Dickens. The story of how she helped the town is wonderful.

  13. December 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I am always looking for inspirational stories to read at this time of year and just put a stack of books next to our tree. This post is wonderful!

  14. December 11, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    What a lovely story and review. The trees are gorgeous and the town is cute. My favorite story book is the Night before Christmas. I really enjoyed this post and the photos are just beautiful.

  15. December 11, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    What a wonderful book and great mosaics! I really enjoyed seeing this post…for the first time! Happy holidays! ♥♥♥

  16. Valerie
    December 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    A marvelous post. So interesting. V

  17. December 12, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Sounds like a wonderful book!
    Have a great week,

  18. December 12, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Enjoyed your post! Such beautiful captures!

  19. December 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Right now it is “Elf on a Shelf” as I have a 3 year old…. but I could be persuaded to have another favorite…..
    Thank you!

  20. December 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Your post is beautiful. I love all of the photos that showcase the trains, trees, and the book. ❄

  21. Nann from At Nann's Table
    December 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I will always treasure ‘The Night Before Christmas.’ But…. ‘The Christmas Box’ had a profound effect on me. Thankyou for the beautiful post and giveaway. It is a charming book and I would love to have it for Christmas.

    With Warmest Regards,


  22. December 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Well, I only have 2 Christmas books:( Isn’t that sad????? One is Wally Lamb’s Wishin and Hopin and the other is Robin Mc Graws Christmas in my Heart and Home. I have to say I love them both. I hope I am at the right place for a chance to win!!! I was totally ENCHANTED with your Christmas Fairies table!!!!! Woman, you are truly amazing! XO, Pinky

  23. December 13, 2011 at 6:45 am

    I feel as though I just went on a marvelous adventure…very warmly done~

  24. December 13, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Wonderful!!!!! I’m speechless!!! They are all so beautiful!!!!! Wishing you a wonderful week! Cathy

  25. December 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    What a wonderful post. I lived in Asheville for 18 years and we went to Spruce Pine often. This looks to be such a precious book. You photos of it and the trees and all of the other scenes are superb. Thanks for all the effort you put into this post so we could enjoy it tonight. genie

  26. December 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Congratulations to Sarah. She will give the dishes and throw a wonderful home.
    I have never been to Spruce Pine, NC but my sister lives nearby and has mentioned it several times. In fact, I bet that’s the same train that runs through the town where my sister lives.
    The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree looks like a very special Christmas book. Your photos are wonderful…as always.

  27. December 14, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful book. I love how you bring it to life. Congrats to Sarah.

    – The Tablescaper

  28. Laura Caldwell
    December 15, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree has been my favorite since I was a child.

  29. December 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Beautiful post !I would love to win the book !

  30. December 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    i so love this and all the fun fft brought us… the fat flakes, the evergreens, its all music to my soul… and then FOOD, too pretty to eat, but i will, you know i would make it dissappear faster then that train running thru it!

  31. December 23, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Great post, really adore your blog :)

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