I have to admit that during my four or five Christmas-time visits to New York City, I’ve stood in awe of the tree in Rockefeller Center, but it has never crossed my mind how it got there. It should have. It’s a big tree. Now that I’ve read a new picture book, The Christmas Tugboat: How the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Came to New York City by George Matteson, I will never look at it without thinking about the tree’s journey.
Matteson was a New York Harbor tugboat captain who one year brought his wife and daughter along on an overnight trip down the harbor to meet a tow ship carrying the famous tree. The story is told from the daughter’s point of view, and she is an enthusiastic companion for this adventure. I love the book, especially James Ransome’s illustrations, but the text is somewhat long for a young child’s attention span. This book would be enjoyed by an eight or nine year old, especially a child who has seen the gigantic tree in person.
Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, there aren’t many boats (tug or otherwise) in my memories. Lots of beautiful farmhouses and fields, but no boats. Now, right down the street from where I live in Massachusetts, there is a boat in someone’s front yard. Every year they outline it in little lights, and it makes me happy every time I drive by. The picture isn’t great, but I wanted to share it with you: