Master quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson is hoping for a quiet Christmas tangled as she is in her very modern problems of family dispersed, estranged, or even forgotten. But when her friend Sarah McClure unearths and unfinished Bergstrom family quilt hidden in a box of Christmas decorations, the treasure holds clues to generations of Sylvia's family-from the Civil War to World War ll-and soon Sylvia may be able to see her situation through new eyes, thanks to this very special gift from the past.
As a late-in-life newlywed, Sylvia Compson's present joy is tingled with regret over her past estrangement with her sister-a mistake Sylvia vows not to repeat with her new stepdaughter, Amy, who opposed Sylvia's marriage to her father. Taking up a quilt begun and abandoned years ago, Sylvia titles it "New Years Reflections," intending it to commemorate new beginnings. Can Sylvia bond with Amy, and convince her that family is more precious than pride?
When Christmas Eve comes to Elm Creek Manor, the tenor of the holiday is far from certain. Sylvia Bergstrom Compson, the Master Quilter, has her own reasons for preferring a quiet, even subdued, Christmas. Her young friend Sarah McClure, however, takes the opposite view and decides to deck the halls brightly. As she explores the trunks packed with Bergstrom family decorations that haven't been touched in more than fifty years, Sarah discovers a curious Christmas quilt. Begun in seasonal fabrics and patterns, the quilt remains unfinished.
Sylvia reveals that the handiwork spans several generations and a quartet of Bergstrom quilters -- her great aunt, her mother, her sister, and herself. As she examines the array of quilt blocks each family member contributed but never completed, memories of Christmases past emerge.
At Elm Creek Manor, Christmas began as a celebration of simple virtues -- joy and hope buoyed by the spirit of giving. As each successive generation of Bergstroms lived through its unique trials -- the antebellum era, the Great Depression, World War II -- tradition offered sustenance even during the most difficult times. For Sylvia, who is coping with the modern problem of family dispersed, estranged, or even forgotten, reconciliation with her personal history may prove as elusive as piecing the Christmas Quilt.
Elm Creek Manor is full of secrets, from a Christmas tree with unusual properties to the sublime Bergstrom strudel recipe. Sylvia's tales at first seem to inform her family legacy but ultimately illuminate far more, from the importance of women's art to its place in commemorating our shared experience, at Christmastime and in every season.
Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, five collections of quilt projects, and several historical fiction novels. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and sons in Madison, Wisconsin. To learn more, visit JenniferChiaverini.com.