For the last several years...maybe four...one of our favorite Christmas traditions has been wrapping up 24 Christmas books and counting down the days 'til Christmas as we read favorites, old and new. I keep the books in a festive basket or bin and after reading the day's book, it gets put behind the wrapped books...for the kids to read as Christmas approaches.
One of the things I love about this tradition is that is keeps us from reading all-of-the-Christmas-books in one sitting as soon as they're unpacked with the Christmas decorations. It also helped when the kiddos were younger to see how close we were to Christmas. (We have other advent calendars too, but these books seemed to be the most helpful, especially before the kiddos understood the concept of a calendar.)
There are books that are favorites of mine as a child that I've hunted down (my favorite illustrated copy of Twas the Night before Christmas and The Christmas Snowman). We have many that have come as gifts, including several of Jan Brett's wonderful books...and of course, classics like How The Grinch Stole Christmas and O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi.
Each year, I always try to add at least one new book...and phase out ones that the kids may have outgrown. (Although I still set those out in our "Christmas toys" basket!)
Our new book this year was The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie.
This was the first book that we unwrapped this year, as I wanted to begin December with a focus less on stuff and more focused on giving to others and the Gift that we've been given in Christ. The story is well-told and the illustrations are lovely. I found myself pausing to hold back tears as the ending neared, the story a good reminder for adults as well as children of the call to serve others.
While reading, I couldn't help but think of Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" And sure enough, on the last page, in a note from the author, was the verse and a challenge to fill your own Sparkle Box this Christmas season.
The book includes a silver, glittery cardstock-weight box that you can assemble to begin a Sparkle Box tradition in your own family. (There is a pocket on the back cover for storing your box after Christmas.) The kids and I will be brainstorming some ideas today for serving others in this last week before Christmas...I'm looking forward to it a lot.
If you'd like to win a copy of The Sparkle Box...please leave a comment: share a favorite memory of serving "the least of these"or your favorite Christmas carol! Comments will be accepted through Thursday, December 19 12:00 pm EST and the winner announced that afternoon!
This review of The Sparkle Box is sponsored by PR by the Book, who provided my copy and the giveaway copy, but the review is entirely my own opinion.