Today’s post was brought to you by my absolute giddiness that it’s now (cue drummer boy): TIME TO GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!! Two full months of music and trees and white lights. I’ve got my Pandora Christmas all ready to go, and it’s gonna be me, and Josh Groban, and some chestnuts.
And it was brought to you by this little book:
That being said, there are two big problems with today’s post:
1. ALL I really, REALLY want for Christmas is Jesus, the music, a tree, the white lights, and two little boys who don’t go nutball for every heavily packaged, impossible-to-open toy in the universe. Oh, and maybe my peanut butter balls.
2. I had to actually read today’s manuscript all the way to the very. Last. Page.
Don’t worry. I loved the book. Adored it. I simply didn’t want the magic of it to come to an end. Sounds corny, but it’s true.
Franziska Macur of Home, Naturally has written an endearing story about an impatient six year old named Charlie. All he wants is for December 25th to get here, already, so he can tear into his Christmas gifts, hoping it will be the biggest Christmas ever. Our author has also told a story that helped this mom with my impatient desire to tear into every Christmas craft and notion that sweet Pinterest has ever thrown at me, all to make this year the best Christmas ever.
And our author gets me. Her writing shows me she understand that sometimes Christmas can feel like a full-on run and tackle between Walmart, Martha Stewart Specials, home made everything, Keeping Traditions Alive by Jolly, making the pageant(s) on time, and oh, yes! the baby Jesus.
And she gets that children are sometimes the most unwitting targets and victims of all this. They are targeted for their simple desires to play and play some more, so, of course, TOYS ya’ll! Keep ’em coming! And they are victims too. I strongly feel that all the emphasis on all these making magical Christmas memories is simply a way to take our Savior and put Him in a very non-magical, serious time slot (sorta like the news verses watching the Rudolph special – a toddler has no choice but to hunker down to Rudolph).
There is a great scene in the book where the history of our Christian advent is explained:
“…even people in the 17th century had something resembling an Advent calendar. Some families put up a new religious picture each day, others painted 25 chalk strokes on the living room door and each day a child could erase one. Others set up the nativity scene without baby Jesus and put one piece of hay into the manger on each day.”
Charlie looked up. ”I think I like chocolate better.”
Said like a true toddler.
And yet, Jesus understands our longing for magic. He created it. And Franziska Macur has written a very magical story that illustrates this well, for kids, and for tired momsies.
The book is set up in simple, daily readings. Each reading tells the continuing story of Charlie and Noel (yes, he’s a talking donkey; he’s adorable), and I tell you, it is lovely. It has simple crafts and follow up questions on some days; other days provide thought-provoking reading for the parents. It gives some really great ideas on how to find joy through service, through giving, and it even gives great counsel to your toddler about that dreaded List o’ Presents You Really Should Get Me. (I loved this list as a kid. I used to outline mine with subcategories and multiple headings. Color coded. Spiral bound. Good times.)
As someone who always, ALWAYS, starts out her Christmas season with this rally cry: “This year we are going to tone it down. It’s going to be simpler. But memorable. Magical. But biblical. We won’t get caught up in the Walmart Shuffle. We’ll make memories, not spend money. It will be service oriented, but not too hectic, AND- (at this point I have totally cued the Braveheart theme and have slowly crawled up on top of my couch. I am William Wallace, ready to slay Toys ‘R Us flyers and overstuffed calendars, for the glory of The Perfect Christmas.) – AND this year every gift we give will be homemade! No one will want our gifts! It will be the best Christmas EVERRRRRRRR!!!”
And then the Rudolph special airs along with a commercial for Thomas the Legoland Wii Extravaganza Playset (with extra Star Wars play set engineers – Obi One Kenobi as Sir Topham Hatt!), and I’ve lost my sword and my horse, and my lousy Scottish accent. And my mind.
The Christmas season is not meant to be jetted through at a calendar-scorching twelve parties a week. It is not meant to be feted to death or over-scheduled or, for some, just endured. It is meant to be magical. And not in a Rudolph kind of way.*
In a Jesus kind of way.
We all long for it; sometimes we just don’t know how to put this longing into words. Charlie and Noel is the kind of book that will first help you remember the Christmas your heart knows. And then, it will help you teach this remembering to your children.
Click here for more information about Charlie and Noel at Home, Naturally’s bookstore:
And here at Amazon.com.
* I would like to add, for sweet Rudolph’s benefit, I really have nothing against the little glowing guy. Rudolph is an innocent stop-motion animated bystander (along with his annoying dentist elfin friend). Rudolph is a classic. He is beloved and a wonderful part of Christmas cheer. I’m just saying he is not the “reason for the season.” And these days, the whole Reason seems to be lost amidst the nuttiness that starts BEFORE Halloween in the aisles of Target and Walmart across this nation. (And… as much as I like to lambast Walmart, we buy it, don’t we?)
But not the Abominable Snowman. He’s not an innocent. He still scares me.