Everything this time of year seems big—and full of wonder, awe, and beauty, too.
The lighting of the Christmas trees in our town squares, or at the White House or Rockefeller Center. Parking lots full of cars and stores full of shoppers. Streets full of fresh cut trees, and festooned with garland and lights. Pantries stuffed to the gills with unusual baking items like dried figs, almond and hazelnut extracts, or canned mincemeat.
I remember one early December when I decided to buy a fresh cut tree. Beginning my quest at the tree lot, I almost forgot why I was there. I just drank in everything that my senses could take. The first thing that struck me was the color: green—an absolute field of it. Then, the smell: that incredibly fragrant, smile-inducing scent of pine enveloped me like a warm comforter after a cold day in the snow. Nothing could mar this big, full sensory experience, not even the sticky sap that got on my gloves and coat and boots as I cut down and dragged my prize to my car.
Even those years when I bought the smallest tree on the lot for my teeny tiny Chicago studio or a living Christmas “bush” did not dent the experience of wonder and awe and beauty. Frankly, only my Grandma’s fake silver tree with all blue, round ornaments and a spinning color wheel could even threaten my Christmas tree wonder. But even it was beautiful in its own abstract art kind of way.
This week’s CatholicsRead installment features books for families with children that represent different aspects of Christmas wonder and awe.
True stories that take place at Christmas time can reinforce the wonder of this time of year. Paulist Press’s Little Owl in the Big City, written by Marcia Mogelonsky and illustrated by Jill Alexander, is a heartwarming and inspiring story that will delight young readers. The picture book tells the story of the journey of a Northern Saw-Whet owl found in the boughs of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, 175 miles away from home.
What better opportunity to reflect on the story of the three Magi than gathering around the table to put together puzzle of Hans Memling’s classic painting, Adoration of the Magi? With its focus on the Gospel for Epiphany, this 1,000-piece puzzle from Catholic Book Publishing is a beautiful way of extending the Christmas story beyond the Nativity.
The best way to immerse your children, grandchildren, godchildren, nieces, and nephews in the fullness of their faith is through the Scripture. CatholicsRead has two scriptural offerings for kids this week. The first is the New Catholic Children’s Bible from Catholic Book Publishing. At 224 pages, this richly illustrated, full color children’s Bible includes over 90 stories from the Old and New Testaments. The second is Pflaum Publishing Group’s The Gospels for Young Catholics which provides the complete text of all four Gospels in an easy-to-use, instructional format to help children strengthen their knowledge of the Gospels.
As your children’s excitement grows for the coming Christmas season, encourage their growth in faith!
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Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.