How to Give the Gift of More Christmas, Less Fuss
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What if someone whispered in your ear, “Slow down, savor these moments better” ?
It’s hustle and bustle time and we race and fill every moment in the name of worship and traditions. We have a tendency to heap on ourselves activities to make this time memorable and meaningful.
But what if the key to a really, really good holiday is doing less and not more?
In the first half of my married life we did not celebrate Christmas. To honor the wishes and beliefs my husband held then, we kept the day like any other. But I didn’t always handle it with grace. You would think since I got all that I wished for when we we finally able to have Christmas that I would have been more thoughtful about starting traditions and making meaningful memories.
But I have a feast or famine kind of nature that I’ve yet to tame and I feel like I indulged at a buffet of holiday rather than a sacred and serene table of delights and treats. I had all the elements necessary to make this holiday something profound and beautiful to all the souls in my home. I had the knowledge that time was slipping through my fingers. I had sons almost full grown and the need to make roots go deep quickly.
But I filled it more with noise and tinsel, trying to satisfy with hustle and bustle what can only be satisfied with quiet and stillness. Last year, God slowed it all down for us. He lovingly derailed the hustle train and made the holiday meaningful to us. We were rich in time and poor in money. And it changed everything. We savored the holiday.
And I learned that there is no express train to sacred. It comes through a simmering or it does not come at all.
So if I were sending you a card this Christmas, I would tell you this: Pull out the hot cocoa. Climb on the couch with a blanket and a good book. Slow it all down, sister or you will rush your soul through a memory. Do it without guilt and do it for your body, your mind and your enjoyment.
We’ve lovingly gathered a suggested list of books that will quiet the noise and put you in a good frame of mind for the season. I’m going to get it right this year and follow the Lord’s leading and teaching from last year. I am going to stay in the slow lane. I’m going to take the time to approach Christmas with rest and joy. I’ve missed so many years, wasted a few more, and been thankful for the ones that I did less and was given more.
So, I’m not quite the “ghost” of Christmas past but maybe I’m the voice of Christmas past. Peruse the lists of books in this post and all the links. Find some books for your soul, for cuddle time with the children and grandchildren.
We have this Christmas. It’s a gift, isn’t it?
Journey into Christmas by Bess Streeter Aldrich
Reviewed by Jeannie Pederson
My annual Christmas treat is reading Journey into Christmas by Bess Streeter Aldrich. Worth hunting down through inter-library loan or a used book store, it’s a sweet collection of old-fashioned short stories that will help you think about deeper things than Black Friday sales. And Mrs. Aldrich’s characters are so real they’re almost alive.
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
Reviewed by Katie
Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift, has become one my greatest gifts the last few Christmas seasons. Advent is about the anticipation of Christ coming, and in her book Ann takes you on a journey of anticipating and finding the way Christ comes now, into our every day lives. Broken down into short two-three page chapters with reflective questions, The Greatest Gift makes a wonderful rich devotional and journal for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Whether you have five minutes or twenty to spend reading and reflecting, this book is a must for the holiday season! It has taught me to look for His light in all things and that has exponentially increased my joy amid the busyness of Christmas.
Prayers of a Stranger by Davis Bunn
Reviewed by Elisabeth A.
I couldn’t resist this novel by a favorite author, about a favorite place. The story? Longing to reconnect with her husband, her calling, and her courage after the loss of her child, a nurse seeks healing in a trip to Israel. Prayers of a Stranger by Davis Bunn is about mending relationships of many kinds. I found it vivid, moving, unexpected, and well worth a read!
Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes
Reviewed by Gretchen Louise
I first read this book as a “get into character” exercise when I was to play Mary in a Christmas musical. It’s since become one of my favorites with which to usher in the Christmas season. Though fictionalized extensively from the biblical account, it puts you right into Mary’s shoes as you consider the glory and the shame she faced by becoming the mother of the Christ Child.
The Nativity: Mary Remembers by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton
Reviewed by Elisabeth Allen
I discovered The Nativity: Mary Remembers in the corner of a bookshop when I was twelve. It’s a beautifully-illustrated version of the Christmas story told from Mary’s perspective as she remembers what happened when an angel came and told her that she was going to have a special baby. The book draws the reader into the heart of the story in a touching and unforgettable way.
The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas by William Bennett
Reviewed by Everly Pleasant
The True Saint Nicolas: Why He Matters to Christmas was new to me last year, but I have thought back on it several times since. As the title makes clear, it is the true story of the world renown Saint Nicholas. This book covers the myths and legends and the origin of our modern traditions (“why does he leave gifts in stockings?” etc.). I learned so much from this book and it made me more excited than ever to celebrate Christmas “with all the saints” and teach my little siblings about a real man who helped people understand the true meaning Christmas many a year ago.
The Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Reviewed by Gretchen Louise
This classic tale is as simple as it is sweet. The story of the Bird family and their neighbors will delight you, while little Carol will inspire you. A quick read, it’s the perfect way to gain perspective on the season.
Home for Christmas: Stories for Young and Old
Reviewed by Danielle Carey
Every year I pull out Home for Christmas, a beautiful collection of Christmas-themed short stories by some great writers. It’s a perfect collection and some of the stories are ones I’ve read over and over because I just loved them.
Christmas in My Heart by Joe Wheeler
Reviewed by Chantel Brankshire
When I think of Christmas, I think of cozy evenings curled up reading from Joe L. Wheeler’s collection of Christmas stories while the lights sparkle. With stories that make you laugh, stories that make you cry, and stories you just want to read every single year, the Christmas In My Heart treasuries are well worth adding to your Christmas traditions.
A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs
Reviewed by Elisabeth Allen
A Wreath of Snow is a tiny work of art – a Christmas novella – by Liz Curtis Higgs. It’s beautifully and richly written and includes a sweet romance but nothing to make a single girl blush. Meg Campbell is a delightful heroine and a certain gentleman is charming. I was caught up in the complexities of their story and my only complaint was that “the end” came too soon. The novella is a perfect Christmas Eve companion.
What books are you reading this Advent season?
Photography: JenniMarie Photography
What a lovely post! I’m touched by how you’ve shared your heart here, and I can’t wait to check out so many of the books you’ve recommended here. Thanks so much for linking this post up at my collection of clean Christmas reads for adults at Mommynificent.com!
Thanks for these book recommendations!
Sweet Shannon!! I love this post … and your beautiful heart. You are such an encourager and reminder of what grace looks like and how hard it can be and the beauty of learning to walk in it. Love you, girl!
And to Gretchen, thank you for adding my list to yours! 🙂
Thank you, Teri Lynne! Your list had a couple titles I’m going to have to add to my wishlist, that’s for sure. 🙂
What a lovely list–some favorites I recognize (Two from Galilee, The Greatest Gift, the Bird’s Christmas Carol) and new ones to check out. Thank you! Blessings. 🙂
Great work, everyone! 🙂
Loved your intro, Shannon!
I also appreciated Trina’s wise suggestion in a recent post on her own blog: look at Christmas excepts from novels. I can think of meeting Father Christmas in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or scenes from Little Women or Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott. It’s sweet to see how often these stories are about sacrificial giving, and about putting others ahead of ourselves, in the spirit of II Corinthians 8.
Author Chautona Havig writes a Christmas novel every year: I like Discovering Hope, and her latest, Matchmakers of Holly Circle sounds like a lot of fun.
Oh, I think I need to find Chautona Havig’s books! How neat that she writes a Christmas novel each year.
And Shannon, I agree–your introduction to this post made it perfectly beautiful. Thank you.
Gretchen, send me an email and which one you’d like. I’ll send you a Smashwords code for it. 🙂
Thank you, Elizabeth, for mentioning me. 🙂
Favorite Christmas “writing” is Annie and Willie’s Prayer by Sophia Snow.
Why thank you, Chautona! I will email you. Matchmakers of Holly Circle sounds delightful (since I’m a matchmaker at heart!).