Julie McDonald: Book signings and Christmas trees launch holiday season


Despite Thanksgiving falling early this year, we’ve launched quickly in the Christmas tree selling season, which is always a busy but fun time for our family. In many cases, we see friends and neighbors for the first time in a year when they stop to pick out a u-cut tree. It was especially nice on Friday and Saturday under blue skies and sunshine despite cold temperatures.

My husband’s Christmas tree vocation and mine cross paths at times, too, as I greet people whom I’ve met during interviews for this column or book projects. Sometimes it takes a minute for me to place the face — out of context, so to speak. 

I knew Don Buswell Jr. bought trees from my husband; he told me so last spring when I interviewed his 101-year-old father. But when he arrived with his family, I recognized his face but couldn’t place him until he reminded me. Don said his father is still going strong. He bought a tree for him.

The coming of Christmas also heralds a busy time for the Lewis County Historical Museum and local bookstores, which host book signings by local writers as people peruse books to purchase as gifts for the holidays.

We’re blessed in this community to have talented fiction and nonfiction writers, many of whom will be at the museum fundraiser and Book ’N’ Brush in December.

On Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., visit the Lewis County Historical Museum for its free annual Evening with the Authors, followed the next day by a tree-lighting ceremony at 3 p.m. Among authors attending are:

• Calamity Jan Pierson, of Olympia, who taught with the Institute for Children’s Literature and has 18 published books; 

• East Lewis County’s Buddy Rose, a retired U.S. Forest Service worker who wrote Stories from Riffe, Washington, and Fire Mountain: Treks & Treasures; 

• Kerry Serl, of Napavine, who co-wrote George Washington of Centralia with Chronicle columnist Brian Mittge;

• Steven Craig, of Centralia, a retired Oakville postmaster and Coast Guard captain who has written three books, including All Present and Accounted For, the true account of the sinking of the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis in November 1972 near Dutch Harbor, Alaska;

• Gretchen Staebler of Centralia, author of Mother Lode—Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver;

• Sara Light-Waller, a writer and graphic designer whose illustrated books include Landscape of Darkness, Incorruptible, and Anchor: A Strange Tale of Time; 

• Yours truly, whose books in stock at the museum include These Walls Talk: Lewis County’s Historic 1927 Courthouse; Chehalis: A Can-Do Community; Chehalis (Images of America); A History of the Chehalis Industrial Park; Chapters of Life at the Southwest Washington Fair; Herman Klaber: King of Hops; and Washington Territory’s Grand Lady: The Story of Matilda (Glover) Koontz Jackson, which was a finalist for both the Western Writers of American Spur Award and the Will Rogers Medallion.

Book ’N’ Brush in Chehalis is offering a treat to the community on Dec. 9 during an event at McFiler’s Chehalis Theater featuring talented writer Garth Stein, of Seattle, who wrote The Art of Racing in the Rain, which has been turned into a motion picture. The event, featuring presentations by Stein and a half dozen local authors, begins at noon and runs until 2 p.m., perhaps with additional opportunities to congregate at Book ’N’ Brush afterward. 

Stein’s other books include The Cloven, coming of age action-packed graphic novels about a mutant in the Pacific Northwest; A Sudden Light, a family saga of long-buried secrets, forgiveness, and redemption; Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog, a special adaptation of his famous novel for young people; How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, featuring a Seattle musician connecting with a son he never knew; Raven Stole the Moon, about a mother grieving the death of her son; and a series of children’s picture books featuring a dog, Enzo.

The Chehalis bookstore also will feature book signings by local authors from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 23.

The bookstore also serves as a drop-off spot for people who want to give to the local chapter of The Forgotten Children’s Fund, a volunteer organization that helps provide local underprivileged children and their families with a Merry Christmas by providing gifts each year.

And it will feature a Giving Tree where people can help their local school libraries purchase books for their collection. At the store, people pay for an ornament identifying a specific local school, and that amount will be credited to the school library’s account with the bookstore.

“I think we raised close to a thousand dollars last year, and we’d like to see that increased this year,” said David Hartz, who owns Book ’N’ Brush with his wife, Beverly.


Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, may be reached at memoirs@chaptersoflife.com.