It's here! It's finally, actually, truly here. The most wonderful time of the year. Yes, friends, December, with all its festivities, is upon us. The decorations, the lights, the parties, the songs, the gifts, the candle light services. All the wonderful happenings of Christmas start NOW.
I have loved this season down to the very tips of my toes for as long as I can remember. Even before I became a Christian in my twenties I carried a deep affection for this time of year. I remember how, as a young girl, I would just sit and endlessly stare at the lit tree my mother decorated each year. Although I couldn't quite put my finger on it at the time, there seemed to be something truly magical about the season of Christmas.
Now that I know and love the One of whom this holiday speaks, this long-held affection for the Christmas season goes far beyond the sentimentality and nostalgia I once knew, and points my soul to the most significant truths of my life. That in His very great love for us, God came down and made Himself known to us. Yes, the very One to whom all creation bows wrapped Himself in flesh and bone in pursuit of fallen humanity. In this way, Christmas serves as the apex of the greatest love story this world will ever know.
So how much more so should I love this season now that all the trappings of Christmas carry a weight and significance that I couldn't even have fathomed before I came to know Christ? And while I know just how beautiful all these truths are, I must make a Christmastime confession: Even knowing all this, my mind (and heart) still wanders during this time of year. And because of all the EVERYTHING to do, it might well be that my attention wanders away from Christ even more than usual during the month of December. Which is exactly the opposite of what I want to happen during this sacred time of year.
So because I know this happens, because I know too well my propensity to allow the busy-ness of the season to overshadow the true "reason for the season," I have begun setting things in place to help me focus in on Christ during this time of year. And because I love to read, it's no surprise that books play a major role in this intentional focusing in on Christ during the Christmas season.
Below, I've compiled a list of some of my (and my kids’) favorite reads for the Christmas season in the hopes that these books might help you focus in on Christ just as they have helped me. From tried and true favorites that I return to year after year, to new found treasures that I've just recently added to my library, each one of these books points me to Christ during the Christmas season.
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I don't know about you, but until my ducks are in a row, or at the very least, I have a plan for getting those ducks in a row, I have a hard time focusing in on anything.
This is where Christmas Without the C.R.A.P comes in. Author Brenna Peyton, a professional organizer by trade, does a fantastic job of helping us check off that huge holiday to-do list in an organized and orderly fashion so that we can turn our attention to greater things during the month of December. This is the first year I have used Brenna's book to get myself organized for the holidays, but it won't be the last. With tons of free downloads to take the weight off your shoulders, this is a book you’ll return to again and again in the coming years.
Because I'm the mother of three young boys, much of me preparing my own heart for Christmas necessarily overlaps with me preparing my children's hearts for Christmas. The Advent Jesse Tree has become one of my boys' favorite holiday traditions over the past many years.
This book has a short devotional for each day of December (one geared more toward children, another geared more for adults). If you like, you can also create ornaments for each day that correspond with the story of that day. As you work your way through the devotionals, you're given a glimpse of the entire Biblical narrative. My boys love our nightly December routine of reading the devotional and unwrapping the ornament to put on the tree.
This is a book I recently discovered, and I can't wait to read it to my boys in the coming weeks. Author Amber Noblit inspires a whole new holiday tradition in the telling of this story. And while I don't want to say too much and ruin the "punch line" of this book, you and your children are sure to love this sweet tale. Our family's December 23rd's will never look the same.
Speaking of sweet tales, this traditional folk tale brings me to tears each and every year. There are many different versions of the telling, but this is the one I have. And technically speaking, this book most directly points to Easter rather than to Christmas, but I love reading it to my children this time of year nonetheless. I take the opportunity to teach my boys that Christ’s birth was His first step towards the cross.
This is the book I bust out on Christmas Eve, just before I tuck my little ones into bed. It takes Santa out of the spotlight of the impending days' celebration and places Christ there instead. (And by the way, I'm not ousting Santa. Have fun with Santa. We have mad love for Santa around here. We make cookies and listen for reindeer and the whole thing. But it's always good and necessary to bring things back around to Christ.)
This Max Lucado book captures your imagination as it depicts for us what may have been happening in the heavenly realm the night Christ was born. This book captivated me the first time I read it, so I love suggesting it to others. It is imaginative and thought-provoking.
For the sake of full disclosure, I haven’t read this book yet, but it’s sitting on my nightstand right now just begging to be read. And because I can’t wait to read it, I just had to share it with you all. Tim Keller never misses, so I’m sure it will be worth the read. This book goes beyond the surface of the nativity story to dig deep into the message of hope and salvation that Jesus’ birth foretold.
8. Luke Chapter 2
Last, but certainly not least…The Bible. As wonderful as all the books on this list are, don’t allow them to distract you from the most worthy book of all.
I love each and every chapter in Scripture that tells the events and details of Jesus’ birth, and any of them would prove a worthwhile way to spend your December Bible study time. Last year, I set my heart intently on the version told in Luke chapter 2, and I think I’ll return there once again this year, just to see what else the Lord may reveal to me. I’ll read it each morning during my quiet time. I’ll memorize as much of it as I can. I’ll re-tell it to my boys on Christmas morning. I’ll allow the simplicity of the text to breathe fresh life into this crazy-busy December season and pray that it will slow me down enough to keep my eye on Him.
I’ll be praying the same for you this Christmas.