Olivia's Family Traditions
It did not matter how much discussion there was to be had with his editors during the process of creating Olivia Helps with Christmas, there was one thing that Ian Falconer was absolutely certain about... Santa Claus would appear NOWHERE in the book. Olivia and her brothers and sisters would do everything they could to get ready for Santa, and they sure would be anticipating Santa's arrival, but readers would not see the fabled Kriss Kringle. With all the ideas that were put on the table for this book, that was one Falconer would not stray from.
And with good reason.
This was to be a different type of Christmas book. A book about how a family celebrates Christmas, and how a lot of family holiday traditions really revolve around preparations. In fact, the reason the book has such a personal feel to it is because many of the traditions that Olivia and her family celebrate were taken straight from Ian's childhood memories: Being asked to set the Christmas table was a big honor for Ian (as it is for Olivia in the book). The caroling by the piano, the "Santa watch," the order in which things were done (tree up Christmas Eve, dinner, caroling, hanging stockings), even the phrase "warming your trotters by the fire"--all of it has roots in the Falconer home. And since Ian never did catch a glimpse of Santa at Christmas, neither could Olivia. It's for the best, really. Olivia likes to be the true star of her books--Santa would have met his match.
For your viewing pleasure: A bonus illustration of Olivia not available in Olivia Helps with Christmas!