"Without tearing up?" I asked.
"Yes, you got stuck when you read it to us kids."
Us kids is often how my kids refer to themselves as opposed to other children in our world and it was to the "us kids" group that I read one of my favorite Christmas stories last week during our morning time for school and I had, in fact, teared up just a little. They were happy tears, fear not.
The Shoe Box, by Francine Rivers is short, easily read in one sitting, and will spark your heart as we get into the meat and potatoes of the Christmas season.
Despite Kate's concerns about seeing her Mamma shed weepy tears in front of her peers, I read the first half of this book to my 3rd through 6th grade class last Wednesday. They were quiet and listened intently, leaning in to see the occasional pictures that are scattered through out. When I came upon some of the recipes that the author has included in the book (chocolate chip cookies, pie dough...) I paused to ask the kids if they'd like me to read them the recipes (nothing would have been more delightful...right?) they urged me to skip the fluff and stick with the story.
When time had expired and the tale had not yet come to its end, I promised to finish the next week. A few of my students were concerned that they'd not be there. I assured them I'd get the book to them if that was the case. After class, another student attempted to talk me out of my book with promises to read to the end of it quickly and return it to me on Sunday. Nice try =-)
While the book is wonderful for kids of all ages (Molly, who is 6 was easily able to follow the action) it is equally enjoyable and touching, even more so I think, for adults. Right now Amazon is selling the Kindle edition for $9.99 and the downloadable audio for $4.95 (you could listen while you wrap gifts or roll out cookies or fold laundry but fold fast because it's only 30 minutes long). The hardcover version is also available and would make a great gift for anyone.
The Wright Academy is also enjoying "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" by Ann Voskamp.
We read each daily entry, we hang a corresponding ornament on our little tree.
It's a BEAUTIFUL book and we are just in awe of the vivid artwork throughout.
It's not too late to begin your advent celebrations and this book is a simple, lovely, non-threatening, no preparation place to start. Don't get trapped into thinking you have to gather around a clean table or around a glowing fireplace and sing carols in four part harmony. You won't be able to accomplish that many times in a month let alone a week.
Sure, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies would be sweet but in the time you wipe up the spills and the crumbs you could have been finished with the reading! All you've gotta do is gather your people wherever you can, open a book, read to them and maybe say a prayer and voila! you've added to their day and to their Christmas celebration.