Christmas is still weeks away, but most people have already begun to prepare for the celebration, be it shopping and crafting gifts for loved ones, baking and freezing cookies, or even displaying a Christmas tree. In my home, funds for Christmas gifts are working into the budget in advance, but short of that, little preparation for the celebration begins before December. The weeks of Advent are traditionally a time to prepare ourselves for Christ's coming. That preparation is two-fold. We prepare ourselves to celebrate The Savior's birth, but perhaps more importantly, we take extra care to see that we are prepared when He comes again. My November preparations, this year, have centered around finding ways to prepare the hearts of my family for Jesus. God sent me the perfect tool to remind my children of Christ's sacrifice for them.
A while back, I was blessed with the opportunity to receive and review a truly great children's book, This Little Prayer of Mine, by Anthony DeStefano. Recently, I opened my mail box to find his newest children's book, Little Star. What a truly unique view from which to tell the Nativity Story! Let's face it, when it comes to The Nativity, it's all too easy for the events to seem mundane, common in the eyes of our children. Mary and Joseph ride a donkey to Bethlehem, have to camp in a stable when there's no room at the inn, Baby Jesus is born, angels sing, shepherds and wise men come. The end. I find it vital that such a sacred story, a gift with such unfathomable value, be presented in a way that instills reverence, excitement, and gratification for God's sacrifice. Little Star accomplishes all three.
As exquisitely illustrated pages turn in this story about the Christmas Star, a beautiful parallel is drawn between the star's role in Jesus' birth and the role that Jesus plays in our divinity. One Little Star gives everything it has to Jesus, and Jesus gave everything he had in his life on Earth for us. The comparison was easily understood by my four-year-old son, and the story continues to stir conversations about The Nativity.
For now, I've tucked the book away, waiting until the Advent season to bring it out again. I'm praying that the story continues to feed my children's awareness of God's sacrificial gift of His Son. I pray that you, too, are given tools this season to share the true meaning of Christmas with your children, not so much kindness and charity (though these are important), but the celebration of Christ humbling himself so that we may live forever with Him in Heaven.