What do you do when a book is beyond repair? Turn it back into a tree


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Look at that technical folding.
Look at that technical folding.
The finished product.
The finished product.
You can’t do Christmas crafts without the proper attire, so Tim broke out his vibrant Christmas sweatshirt for the occasion.
You can’t do Christmas crafts without the proper attire, so Tim broke out his vibrant Christmas sweatshirt for the occasion.

You know me – I’ll try anything if it either sounds cool or makes a good story, or, if I’m really lucky, both.

So when I saw the Concord Public Library had a Christmas tree craft going on two days before Christmas, I had to check it out. The holiday spirit has been running high since the gingerbread house creation and it also gave me a reason to bust out my awesome Christmas sweatshirt. It also sounded quite fun, because this craft was to take an old book and turn it into a tree. 

Now, we always thought that libraries promoted reading books and not destroying them for holiday decorations, and it turns out that is very true. These books were no longer readable, and it’s not just because some of them were in French.

Mine happened to be in English and was called My Brother Sam is Dead by Christopher and James Lincoln Collier. It was beyond repair, but what I found out thanks to the Google machine is that the book was released in 1974 and was about two brothers, Tim and – you guessed it – Sam, during the American Revolution. So I made sure to honor the book in the best way possible, by turning it into the best paperback Christmas tree ever, and returning its pages to where their lives once began – as a tree.

It was a fairly simple task. Children’s services manager Pam Stauffacher, who has allowed us on many occasions to basically be kids at work, carefully broke up the books into 35-40 page sections. Mine happened to be pages 139 to 216, and I started by taking the last page and folding the top right corner down so it was tight against the binding. I then took the bottom right corner and folded it up so it created a point with the first fold. Hopefully Keith’s pictures show the steps a little better. The final fold took the point and folded it tight against the binding. 

Then I just repeated those steps for what seemed like forever, but was really only 38 pages. I wonder if I could have read that number of pages faster than it took to fold them all? Once my last crease was complete, I took a glue stick and connected the first and last pages. It took a little fluffing, not unlike with a real tree, to get it just right.

And what is always the next logical step once you have your Christmas tree standing upright? Decorate it, of course. Armed with a mini pom pom, glittery things and some glue in a cup, I turned my tree into one fit for an Insider audience (that’s you!)

Now it’s taking up a spot on the Insider pod table right next to the gingerbread house from a few weeks ago, which, if you’re wondering, is still intact and wonderful as ever.

And maybe this is just the start of a new Insider Christmas craft tradition. Next year, watch out ornament decorators of Concord, we’re coming.

Author: Tim Goodwin

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