“The Maine Christmas Song” Lives On In a Children’s Book

Festive and charming (and, yeah, maybe a little cheesy), the picture book pairs songwriter Con Fullam’s lyrics with folk-art-y illustrations.

a few pages from The Maine Christmas Song book
Courtesy of McSea Books
By Joel Crabtree
From our December 2022 issue

Stephanie Mulligan remembers singing “The Maine Christmas Song” in the early ’90s, when her first-grade class in Otisfield performed it at a recital. “Even in first grade, it was evident what the song is about,” Mulligan recalls. “It’s about taking the time to think about what really matters.” Or, as the wispy refrain goes:

It’s the spirit of sharing, giving, and caring,
Hanging wreaths upon your neighbor’s door.
That’s the spirit of Maine at Christmastime —
From her mountains to her great Atlantic shore.

In 1986, WCSH 6 reporter Bob Elliot had the fanciful notion that Maine ought to have a Christmas carol all its own, so he recruited songwriter Con Fullam, who found inspiration in his upbringing in rural Sidney. The resulting song, with local singer Malinda Liberty on lead vocals, harks back to a time before Black Friday:

There’s still meaning in the magic of Christmas
In the state where the Christmas trees grow,
Where neighbors still drop by with cookies, breads, and pies
And warm themselves beside the kitchen stove.

“Silent Night” it is not, but the tune endured. It was the first track on 1987 compilation album Christmas in Maine. Re-releases of the album added a choral arrangement and a French-language version. Mulligan, several decades removed from her first-grade recital, now runs a publishing house in Lincoln, McSea Books, and last year released a picture book pairing Fullam’s lyrics with folk-art-y illustrations — something nostalgic to leaf through while keeping warm beside the kitchen stove.

The Maine Christmas Song, illustrated by Cynthia Baker, is available online and in many Maine bookshops. $18.95.

April 2024, Down East Magazine

Get all of our latest stories delivered straight to your mailbox every month. Subscribe to Down East magazine.