{Reading Report} Children’s Christmas Stories

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If you don’t read Christmas picture (or chapter) books as a family, I encourage you to begin the tradition! Many of my fondest memories from December are those of my mom and dad reading Christmas stories aloud to me and my brothers. And now it is one of my favorite things about having a toddler at Christmastime, although we very much need to start building our Christmas book library! =)

I’d like to introduce you to my favorite children’s Christmas books...

When I Celebrate His Birthday

whenicelebrateThis is a simple board book that I grew up on, and my mom was so thoughtful to order one for Caleb this year! It’s been one of his favorites, he brings it to me often. There’s not much to it, but a little girl shares about how her family celebrates Jesus’ birthday every year at Christmas time, and I love the sweet illustrations.

Christmas at Rumpole Mansion

rumpolini-001It appears to be out of print, which is a shame, because I remember this book the most fondly of them all! With a little prompting, I still have it memorized almost word-for-word to this day. It’s the story of a mouse family who learns the valuable lesson, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” at Christmas time. The illustrations of life in a cozy mouse home are absolutely captivating to little ones. Both my parents read it aloud multiple times every year and I can’t wait to do the same for our kiddos one day!

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

The old widower woodcarver is in no mood for making friends. But when a kind widow and her vivacious young son hire him to recreate their precious Nativity set in time for Christmas, gloomy Mr. Toomey’s heart begins to soften and new relationships are on the brink of forming. The paintings in this book are absolutely gorgeous and the narration of the audio book is excellent!

The Legend of the Candy Cane

9780310730125I’m disappointed that this book comes “newly illustrated”, as it would be impossible to improve on the vibrantly detailed paintings in the original. However, the message still stands. It’s about the meaning behind the candy cane–a classic piece of Christmas that tells the story of Jesus’ birth and sacrifice on the cross. This book would make the perfect gift for an unsaved family or for use as an evangelism tool in your own home.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Okay, so you’re probably all too familiar with this classic from Dr. Seuss. But I had to include it because the Christmas season was never complete without my dad reading it aloud to us multiple times. It’s a silly story, but I’m forever endeared to it. The rhyming is catchy and the original animated movie is great, too. =)

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

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I love this board book, which was introduced to me this spring by my sister-in-law Shelby. It’s a well-rhymed poem (not all poetic children’s books actually flow the way they should!) and the vibrant pictures catch Caleb’s eye every time. =)

Miracle in a Shoe Box: A Christmas Gift of Wonder

51XjPSeeL7L._SL500_SL160_This fictional account of two children who are blessed by Samaritan Purse’s shoe box ministry brings good perspective to the holiday season. We are so richly blessed in America, while so many people around the world are living in turmoil and have nothing material to enjoy. I loved this story growing up, and it inspired our family to participate in the shoe box project at least one year that I recall. Reading Miracle in a Shoe Box made picturing the children who would receive our gift that much more special.

{Mommy Journal} The Merriest of Early Christmas Mornings

IMG_4055Christmas morning, shortly before 5:00 AM. This festive tree was my view as I fed my precious 5-week-old baby boy. I was seated alone in my family’s (for once) quiet living room with no illumination but twinkling lights. It was in this very spot that I had experienced the joy and childlike excitement of Christmas morning with my brothers for most of our growing up years. Here my grandpa had promised me one of his new heifer calves. Here my parents had sat one year holding their stockings, eyes barely open, because I had decided to awaken the entire house before 6:00 AM to start the festivities. Here my brothers and I had read a letter containing the news that we would be getting our sixth (and last) sibling. Here we had opened a BB gun, a kite, and a football, all hand-shopped for by my dad. Here I had gone bonkers over the stockings my mom had filled with our Christmas morning breakfast of little yogurts, string cheese, satsuma oranges, and individual boxes of cold cereal.

Now I sat here with my own child, looking ahead to sharing many of the same joyful traditions and memories with him as he grew. My heart could have burst right then and there with the nostalgia and happiness of it all.

I am so excited for the future Christmases, Lord-willing, we get to spend with Caleb and any future children God gives us. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child is amazing.

But most of all, I can’t wait to share with him the good news about the baby who spent his first hours in a lowly manger, and what He came to accomplish.

Christmas is merry, indeed.

{Poetry} It’s a Red Cup Filled with Coffee

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It’s a red cup filled with coffee
And a candle burning bright
It’s a sugar cookie wrapped with love
On a cold and starlit night
It’s the Hallmark movie channel
And footprints in the snow
It’s a Christmas pine with popcorn
And presents set below.
It’s gingerbread and peppermint
And eggnog by the fire
It’s classic carols sung with joy
And stories that inspire

Aaannnnd…I didn’t really get any further than that. At least yet. If I finish it, I’ll let you know.

I love this time of year, for so many reasons. One of the most recent is that December is our wedding month. Sharing our first married Christmas just seven days after our wedding was one of the most magical memories I have. This year is really different from all our past Christmases. We’ll be headed to Washington to visit family soon, but returning before the holiday so we can still share our own little family traditions, especially Christmas morning. I feel so blessed that LA really feels like home now, so I can say that we’ll be home for Christmas…

Merry Christmas to you and your family! If you missed my more meaningful poem about what the holiday really means, catch it here.

A Christmas Puzzle (And Other Traditions)

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Christmas is only 44 days away and I can hardly wait. If you missed my advent book, family holiday movies, and children’s Christmas story recommendations, be sure to check them out. It’s never too early to start planning ahead for jolly family memories.

We have a few Christmas traditions coming up, many of which are adopted from things our families did when we were growing up. Some of my favorites:

1. We build this puzzle together and eat chocolate chip cookies. I usually contribute about ten pieces and Andrew does the other four hundred and ninety. Consider picking a Christmas puzzle to bring out every December!

2. We go to a U-cut farm and pick the perfect Christmas tree. We give him a name (past names are Stanley, Burton Guster, and Maurice) and drink hot cocoa while we decorate him.

3. We put on pajamas and drive around to look at Christmas lights.

4. We watch Elf and as many of the Christmas movies referenced above as possible.

There are others, but those are a few of my favorites. I’m so excited to be hand making several Christmas gifts this year, too. Nothing like getting crafty around the holidays! I may ban Andrew from my blog for a few weeks and post how his gift turns out. =)

44 days…