For five years now, this book has been part of our daily portion for the month of December. My seven-year old asked about the book when we lit our Advent wreath on Sunday, but this treasure starts with the first day of December.
It is a heavy board book inside, and on each page is a different, beautiful door. Doors to houses and churches, hung with wreaths and bells and garlands. And behind each door is a bit of the Christmas story, drawn from the gospels. It takes us through December from Mary’s angelic visitor all the way to the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
Joshua, my elder son, was an early reader the first year we had the book. He stumbled over some the place names, over the old language. But we marveled at how our boys, even when very small, became so intimately familiar with the words of this Story of all Stories.
I am a bit of a hand-wringer of a parent at times, always worrying if we are putting in enough of the right ingredients, and limiting the bad as we can, while still somehow teaching discernment. But this one tradition has shown me that the story we live at bit of each day, the story we return to when it is tattered and the words are committed to memory anyway– that is our story. My boys love the toy book and the wish lists and the anticipation, the lights of the tree and the secrets, the ginger cookies and hot chocolate. But they also love that angel, coming again to Mary on the first of December. They’re looking for him. They know he has some good good news for them. They are still captive to the wonder of God wrapped in a baby’s skin.I’m still sifting those ingredients, but I know this. I can trust in the power of this Story. The hope it speaks to even a child’s heart cannot be diminished.
This December I too want to sink into this story. Oh, I’m baking and trimming and my needle is busy and the shutter is clicking and George Winston is playing and home smells like cranberry candles. But I’m journeying too– my heart behind these busy hands is with that dear young mother, the bumpy road to Bethlehem, a dark sky shattered by angel celebration. . . a heart preparing Him room.