Book Review: God Gave Us Christmas

Title: God Gave Us Christmas

Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren

Illustrator: David Hohn

Publisher’s Synopsis: As Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear begins to wonder…
“Who invented Christmas?”
Mama’s answer only leads to more questions like “Is God more important than Santa?” So she and Little Cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and to see how he gave them Christmas. Along the way, they find signs that God is at work all around them. Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns about the very first Christmas and discovers that…
Jesus is the best present of all.
This enchanting tale provides the perfect opportunity to help young children celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and to discover how very much God loves them.

After reading God Gave Us Love, I was curious what Ms. Bergren would do with Christmas!  Being my favorite holiday, I assumed I’d love or hate it.  I was right.  I loved it!  The book, perfect for preparing children for the upcoming holiday and focusing on the true meaning behind it all, starts with a little cub asking, “Did Santa invent Christmas?”

Now, honestly, I read that and thought, “Oh no!  I don’t want to rehash the old ‘Santa vs. Jesus’ thing.  Fortunately, God Gave Us Christmas doesn’t do that.  Instead, the book is a delightful journey through the frozen tundra of the north to see the northern lights, the beauty of the glaciers, and a beautiful star.  It’s a reminder that God shows us every day, in a million little ways, that He is here with us, loves us, and has provided for our comfort and welfare.

God Gave Us Christmas is probably the best children’s picture book I’ve seen on the subject of Christmas in a long time.  Check it out.  You won’t be disappointed.

Thank you Waterbrook for providing this book for review.  I can’t wait to share it with friends.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Ever since I was a very little girl, I’ve had a favorite holiday– Christmas.  I’ve blogged about it dozens of times.  However, for me anyway, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if Thanksgiving didn’t give it a kick-off.  On this day, every year, as we enjoy the bounty that the Lord has provided for us, I’m often humbled.

We have delicious food– lots of it.  Heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, rolls, pies, and of course, our family favorite, Hungarian Coffee Cake.  It’s a reminder, using all the senses, that we’re so very blessed.  The dishes, dirty counters, filthy floors, and cluttered house are a testimony to just how much we have to be thankful for– and to share.  I sit here, exhausted after scrubbing up after cooking up a storm, and dinner isn’t for four more hours!  The house is still a mess, the counters covered with more dirty dishes than the sink and the dishwasher could handle, papers on my living room floor from the couple of hundred of newspapers that my children delivered this morning.  The table is loaded with books for me to ship and Lorna’s doll house.  There’s laundry to fold, and well, we need to do some work in here– and this is only what I can see from my chair!

After I’ve rested, I plan to get up, clean up the room, and then take a shower.  We’ll eat, play a game or three, watch a movie, listen to music, and in the middle of that, we’ll probably start putting up the Christmas village.  I love this time of year!

This year, Thanksgiving is extra special to me.  In my NaNo Novel, I’m writing about the future– 2125 to be exact, and a woman from 2009 who was abducted there.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter… they all don’t exist anymore and watching my character try to recreate the holidays that meant so much to her is really giving me a fresh appreciation of them for me.  I’m seeing everything in a new light.  The food just isn’t empty calories or worn-out traditions.  The abundance of food represents the abundance of our blessings in this country, in our homes, and in our lives.  I know the argument can be made that people over-indulge to the point of gluttony on this day.  This is, most definitely possible.  However, regardless of the veracity of that assertion in an individual’s life, the fact is, it’s hard to over-indulge when you have nothing with which to do it!  It’s still a testimony to the goodness of God.

Tomorrow, this day will be a memory– one more year of feeling thankful for what the Lord has done in my life.  Today, however, I’m going to live it.    This week alone had so many things for me to be thankful for.

Monday— Lunch out with dear friends.  Every time I publish a book, Teresa, Glenda, and I go to Nicoletti’s Cafe and have a ‘signing’.
Tuesday—  My Nolan.  He turned fifteen this year.  Also, my new teeth.  They’re going to be so amazing!  I can’t wait.
Wednesday— My husband and I ‘celebrated’ (by existing in a continual state of marital happiness) our twenty-first anniversary.
Thursday— A lovely meal with my wonderful family.
Friday—  Black Friday sales, decking our home for Christmas, and this year, a ‘write-in’ for NaNoWriMo.
Saturday—  … I can’t imagine what it’ll be, but it’ll be amazing.
Sunday—  The Lord is good, I am thankful, and it’ll be another wonderful Lord’s day.

Winner- The Sound of Sleighbells

I did the Random.org thing and this popped up…

So, off I went to the site to find out who might have won this delightful story (and I just typed out ‘one’ it so I’m guessing that I am sleep-deprived or going senile… or both.  Just thought I’d throw in another freebie for good measure.)

There was quite a bit of anticipation… scroll down to number nine… who might it be… who signed up for it.. let’s see…

Waiting.

Waiting…

Yippee!  Kirstin.  Then, because Kirstin isn’t the kind of name like Chautona where you know that you’re the only one… I had to click on the name to see which one…

So, I snuck over to my dashboard, checked out the name, and what do you know… it’s my friend Kirstin from Kansas!  Yippeedoodle!  So, Kirstin, I’ll be shipping your book sometime this week.  (Gotta make room for more books don’tcha know.

If you didn’t win this time, I do recommend dashing over to Random House’s website and snagging yourself a copy.

On the Seventh Day of December…

I awoke still swinging to the marvelous performance at a local Baptist church last night.  Entitled Let Heaven and Nature Swing, this was a combination of an excellent mixed choir (people from various churches in the valley) and our beloved Big Band X-Press!   Oh it was incredible!

I remember Christmas programs for as long as I can remember.  We did them in kindergarten, in sixth grade, ninth and tenth grade.  I remember singing C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S… listening to Jana Thompson recite, His Name At the Top, the skit with little Robbie saying, “Did Jesus really come to earth?  As a baby I mean, a truly baby!  In a truly manger?  What’s a manger?”

Oh, I love programs.  Last night was well orchestrated and the result was an absolute joy to hear and watch.  The choir dressed to look the part complete with authentic hair do’s, adorable hats and gloves, and even a WWII army jacket!  Some of the choir really got into the part.  They snapped their fingers, “bopped” to the music, andin general, just enjoyed themselves.  The BBE was fantastic.  Benny Goodman- eat your heart out!

But the best part was the faces of the singers. (It’s hard to appreciate puffed cheeks of wind and brass players).  I loved watching their faces.  One woman in the front was amaing.  She was “into the groove” and then some.  I expected her to slip into some east coast swing at any moment.  The joy on most of the faces was inspiring.  These people weren’t just singing, they were truly rejoicing at the birth of Jesus all those years ago.

On the seventh day of December, I’m praising God for the birth of His Son and thanking Him for people with talent to bless my socks off.

On the Sixth Day of December…

Traditions abound and today it’s the annual trek to Santa’s Art Shop!  Oh we love this day.  For many years, I was a vendor.  I sold quilted stockings, table runners, wall quilts, tree skirts, ornaments, hand painted furniture, signs, aprons, children’s clothing, and tote bags.  Oh I can’t remember it all.  One of these days, I’m going to do it again.  I always sold well and enjoyed my days.

As a customer, I pay my dollar to get in, and go straight to Mesquite Hall.  It’s has all of my favorite vendors.  There is an elderly couple from Wrightwood that I absolutely adore.  Everything they make is absolutely beautiful.  Usually you hear Big Jerry playing his hammered dulcimer and there is always a booth from the Rock and Gem club where the kids can smash geodes and purchase polished rocks.  They’ll be selling See’s Candy and we’ll buy pops and truffles.

Outside amid the tinkling sounds of handmade windchimes, the sent of funnel cakes send me straight to the food booths.  It’s almost always windy so we protect the powedered sugared top with another paper plate.  Oh they’re so good!  I remember the year my friend Noemi sold tacos, burritos, spanish rice and beans, and churros!  Oh that was the best year ever!

I always buy a creeping Charlie plant from the man with the outdoor booth of houseplants.  Oh I love the scent of creeping Charlie!  Sage Hall is next.  I have friends who always have booths in there.   I always have to stop by and see what they’ve done this year!

Finally, Joshua Hall.  In here sometimes there is a woman who sells handmade jumpers.  I always loved her jumpers.  Some of my favorite ornaments came from Joshua Hall but they were lost in the “great pool flood of 2005”.   Near the door is the booth where we bought all of our children’s “penny banks” as they called them.   It’s probably time to start buying for the grandkidlets!

This year was no disappointment.  Big Gerry was there… I bought CDs for us and for Blog prizes… Willow needed a new prize for after the new year.  I bought See’s suckers and I’ll buy truffles or something when I go back.  Wanted Kevin’s opinion on that.

I saw dear friends that I haven’t seen in ages and we had fun catching up on each others’  lives.  I enjoyed seeing what friends had made, where their businesses are going, and of course, all with the sounds of Sierra Christmas playing in the background.  I love Big Gerry’s Sierra Christmas!

I’ll go back again- I like to think about things before I buy them.  There was one small stitchery  that said something about “Love grows in small houses” and I thought that fit ours well but I have to think about where I’d put it first.  Actually I think I just found the perfect spot. I’m also considering a cool stitchery I saw for a blog prize.  I’m excited.

Another year, another Santa’s Art Shop, another memory.  God is so good to us.