|Enjoying the ‘timeless experience’ of Christmas|
|Written by Leslie Santamaria|
|Monday, 08 July 2013 03:41 PM America/New_York|
From novelty to nostalgia, a variety of new books celebrate the holiday’s true meaning
As retailers gear up for the critical holiday season, Christian publishers are making books available that foster nostalgia and illuminate the real hope that the birth of Christ brings.
Many of the holiday fiction titles are either historical, Amish or both, providing the sense of returning to simpler times. From Zondervan comes Tricia Goyer’s first Christmas novella, A Christmas Gift for Rose, which features a young Amish woman born in the midst of the Great Depression.
Daisy Hutton, vice president and publisher of fiction at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, says readers enjoy stories about how Christmas was experienced in the past.
Our Christmas celebrations, Hutton said, “center around the retelling of stories from the past and the collective experience of the power of those stories in the current moment. This sense of continuity comforts us. … We look for those timeless experiences that make us feel a part of something larger, something timeless and eternal.”
In nonfiction, Ann Voskamp, best-selling author of One Thousand Gifts, takes readers back to the Old Testament to explore Jesus’ lineage in The Greatest Gift from Tyndale House Publishers. Using the Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree, Voskamp’s holiday book retraces the history of mankind paired with daily readings pointing to why Christ was born and why we celebrate His birth.
Also reminding readers of the first Christmas story and the peace it offers the world is a gift book by Katherine Paterson, acclaimed author of Bridge to Terabithia and other novels, who twice won the National Book Award and twice the Newbury Medal. Published by Westminster John Knox Press, A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season is a collection of short stories Paterson originally wrote to be read during her church’s Christmas Eve service.
Stacie Kizer, marketing and publicity associate for the Presbyterian publishing company, explains that this is a different kind of Christmas book: “People from all walks of life are represented [in the collection] in a very relatable way. Each story, while not always resolved, leaves the reader with a feeling of comfort and encouragement in the midst of difficult circumstances.”
Following are a selection of this year’s Christmas book offerings:
For daily reflection and application, Houdek pairs the Scripture readings for Advent with the words and deeds of St. Francis of Assisi to help readers grow in their faith and spiritual practice.
With entries for each day of Advent and through the Christmas season, this book of reflections guides readers through the treasures of the Gospels and takes a fresh look at the Christmas story.
This large hardcover book opens to display a full-color, 3-D nativity scene with opening flaps, pop-ups and press-out figures to add to the scene. A 16-page book telling the story of Jesus’ birth is also included.
In this 32-page picture book, Lucado tells the story of two mice, Itsy and Bitsy, who hear that a King is coming to Bethlehem and set off to find him. Although they are told along the way that they are too little and unimportant for a king, they learn that Christ has come for everyone—big or small, young or old.
With a die-cut carry-along handle, this Advent activity book includes crafts, puzzles and stickers to keep kids busy.
Along with her engaging illustrations, Engelbreit celebrates the season with classic carols, poems and the story of Jesus’s birth.
Meyer tells youngsters about the miracle of Christmas in this fourth installment of the “Everyday Zoo” series. Hayley Hippo and her quirky animal friends set out to put on an annual pageant, but learn that Christmas isn’t about glitz, but about Christ.
Each paperback in this quartet of cookbooks contains recipes and holiday inspiration for bread lovers, chocolate lovers, cookie lovers and candy lovers, respectively. They include: Have Yourself a Toasty Little Christmas (9781624161346), I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas (9781624161339), O Christmas Cookie (9781624161353) and Walkin’ in a Winter Candy-Land (9781624161360).
Inspired by a true story, Goyer’s first Christmas novella tells the story of Rose, born during the Great Depression and raised in an Amish family. When Rose learns she was born Englisch and was abandoned, she is filled with questions.
Set in the 1840s, the nine romances in this book are written by Christian fiction authors, including Lauraine Snelling, Kathleen Fuller and Vickie McDonough.
Rachel Milligan is caring for her 7-year-old niece, Holly, when Holly’s parents suddenly die. When an Amish relative is awarded guardianship, Rachel takes Holly to the Amish community to seek custody, but also encounters family secrets and experiences the healing of old wounds.
When young Rebecca Shrock’s brother, Levi, returns from combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, things get complicated. Levi has been rejected by his old flame and shunned by the Amish community of Paradise for joining the military. As God works in hearts, will there be faith and reconciliation at holiday time?
When Annie’s family takes her to New York City to experience English life and decide whether or not she will be baptized in the Amish faith, a young Amish man who has long been attracted to her grows concerned that she won’t return to their quieter life. Will Annie go home, or stay and pursue her dreams? This title is part of Cameron’s “Quilts of Lancaster County” series.
Fans of Gabhart’s Shaker stories will recognize Harmony Hill, where this tale is set in 1864. When Heather Worth discovers she is expecting while working as a laundress in her husband’s army unit, he insists she go home, where her father refuses to forgive her for marrying a Yankee. She retreats to a Shaker village where she and her aunt are in need of love and forgiveness as Christmas approaches.
Featuring Annie, from Chapman’s best-seller A Simple Amish Christmas, this contemporary romance follows Annie’s preparation of a crib quilt for her sister-in-law, who is expecting. When the baby arrives early, Annie discovers the quilt may hold more significance than she imagined. This book is part of the “Quilts of Love” series.
Sadie is pressured by her Old Order Amish family to settle down after four years of mission trips to Peru. She joins forces with Levi, a confirmed bachelor, to keep their families from meddling, only to discover that the walls they have built around their hearts are crumbling.
It’s Christmas 1945 when widow and single mother Bev Winters discovers unexpected kindness and romantic love. Also included are 1940s’ recipes, handcrafts, stories and trivia.
This compilation of stories is about realistic characters who have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas due to loss, pain or life circumstances. In unexpected ways, each realizes that even in darkness the joy of Christmas shines bright.
Six well-known communicators explore various aspects of the Christmas story in this gift book.
In this full-color devotional gift book, readers learn the stories behind 40 Christmas carols.
This 26-day study is based on Advent-related words with each reading organized around a word that begins with a successive letter in the alphabet. Also included are discussion-starters, games, crafts, meditations and outreach projects.
James W. Moore
With five sessions, this study focuses on how the Messiah breaks into the chaos and confusion of life and brings Christmas. A youth study and a children’s study are also available
Graham celebrates Christ’s birth in this devotional booklet with excerpts from the best-selling This Christmas Night, hymns, scripture and poetry by his wife, Ruth Bell Graham.
Kenneth E. Bailey
This drama presents the biblical story of Jesus’ birth, rather than what some traditional portrayals offer. A music CD including five original folk songs is also available.
Using the Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree, Voskamp traces the history of mankind from Adam to Christ to help readers celebrate God’s greatest gift.
This Bible study explores the stories of the women who played key roles related to the birth of the Savior: Elizabeth, Mary and Anna.
Christmas Stories for Bedtime includes 30 stories drawn from Scripture, challenging children to consider the meaning of the first Christmas.