It’s no secret that we love books in my family. However, if it’s possible, we might love Christmas even more. We love decorating for Christmas, pulling out all the family heirlooms, baking holiday cookies, and singing carols. But when we lug the heavy suitcase full of Christmas books from the attic, all the hustle and bustle seems to fade away. We are all in rapt attention, mesmerized by the same stories told year after year.
Here are some of my family’s favorite Christmas books, in no particular order. Some of them may be familiar, but we have a few unusual choices that you might also enjoy:
The Golden Christmas Tree by Jan Wahl – A sweet folk tale with beautiful illustrations.
Walt Disney’s Santa’s Toy Shop by Al Dempster – Vintage Disney charm that reminds me of my grandmother.
The Candymaker’s Gift by David & Helen Haidle – The legend of the candy cane as it tells the Christ story.
The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs – We just have a small board book, but the story of sacrifice is a beautiful one.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – A longer story for little readers, but this classic can’t be overlooked.
The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer – This is a year-long favorite for my dog-loving kiddos.
Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This is part of the My First Little House book series, which is one of my favorite picture book series of all time. Beautiful illustrations play perfect tribute to the beloved original series.
Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor – Sparkle, glitter, and a meaningful lesson…literary perfection!
Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold – Just plain Christmasy cute with flaps, scents and pop-ups!
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry – Charming vintage illustrations with an adorable story about animals sharing Christmas.
Lassie, a Christmas Story by Earl Hamner – Another echo from my childhood, this book is reminiscent of the 1950s show with a spiritual lesson as the cherry on top.
God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren – Mama polar bear tells baby polar bear all about the first Christmas in a gentle way. I love that this book includes mention of Santa (without breaking the magic), but more importantly points to the manger.
In my mind, you can never have too many Christmas books, so you can bet I’ll pick up more this year, even though our house is bursting at its seems. I’ll be watching Amazon’s list of best-selling Christmas books for children and paying frequent visits to my favorite thrift stores, where I often find them for 10 or 25 cents each!
Christmas books are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I have a large collection of vintage classics and newer favorites that I’ve read to my children again and again. Some, like “Frosty the Snowman,” are books my parents read to me years ago and the words are as familiar as the ornaments passed down from generation to generation. Others are funny and silly and make my toddler smile, like “Snowmen at Night.”
There is one particular book that will always hold special meaning to our family. Though not a book I would normally have chosen for our collection, it has become very dear to me over the last few years. This book is called “Silent Night.” It’s a huge board book with glossy thick pages, and a bright yellow star button that plays music and lights up the entire page as the words tell the story of Jesus’ birth. And it just so happens that we have two identical copies of the exact same book.
One day when my twins were a little over one, we were doing some holiday shopping at Sam’s Club. I was trying to find gifts for family members as well as groceries for the next few busy weeks, all while wrangling twin toddlers at the height of flu season. To say I was stressed is a huge understatement. While I tried to shop, I gave the girls each a book from the toy section to occupy their attention. A woman approached me and started talking to me about the girls. I don’t remember much about our conversation but I remember her kindness. A few minutes later she found me at the front of the store and pressed $25 into my hand. She wanted to buy those two books for my girls.
I was amazed and touched. Seven years later I am still amazed and touched. I don’t remember that stranger’s face or know her name but I will never forget her sweet, unexpected gift. For me, that gesture meant so much more than two identical books for my children. It meant much more than the amount on the receipt. It meant that someone saw me, where I was that day. She saw me and cared about me enough to stop and chat. On a day when I was tired and discouraged and overwhelmed to the point of tears, that woman showed me the love of Jesus right in the checkout line of Sam’s Club. And I will always remember it.
Last night I read Silent Night yet again, this time to my little son. I told all three children the story of a stranger giving us a gift that meant so much to me. I’m reminded that we can show God’s love in unexpected ways, and it can make a lasting impact, even on a stranger. I’m reminded that even small acts of kindness can point people to the greater Gift of the Season.