|"While Advent is a season of preparation, Christmas is a season of wonder. Celebrants have been preparing a long time for this moment; Christmas is an extended time to savor the gift" (23).|
I often have people ask me where to start in celebrating the church year or ask questions like "What are the twelve days of Christmas?" and often they really want to know; they are intrigued by the idea that families can live the church year in such tangible ways. I have lots of resources I love, but they are all so full of extra ideas and other holidays through the year, that there was no one simple place to point them. That is where this little book is brilliant. It is not the most exhaustive list of ideas and resources, but it is simple, unintimidating and a wonderful little handbook for celebrating Advent and Christmas. It does a brilliant job of listing the feast days and most common traditions. I'm so glad I requested the hard copy (they have a digital copy available here) as I've referred to it many times this season as it sits on my counter. I've even read bits out loud to my boys as I explain a feast day or tradition.
Jessica Snell, the editor begins the book with a lovely reflection on discovering the church year as something that helps us fill our longing to know God, teach our children, and live out scripture. It is worth getting this little book just to read her reflection. I have so many thoughts on why living the church year is a wonderful way to live as a family, so it was lovely to see similar thoughts so well-said on paper.
After the introduction there are two sections - one on Advent and another on Christmas. Each of these two sections has the same structure. They begin "with an introduction which explains the meaning and history of the season". This is followed with an explanation of the days in the given season. Next there is a section on traditions (lots of practical ideas of things to do as a family) including ideas 'for the very young' which is lovely for those of us with wee ones. Then there are sections called "In the Kitchen","Beyond the Home" and a resource section. The resource section lists scriptures, passages to memorize, prayers and seasonal reading. I must say that the seasonal reading sections are a bit disappointing. I recognize that they are trying to make the list short and only the best, but only three books are listed for children to read and three for all ages in the Christmas season, which seems a bit of a travesty as there are so many amazing books to share through the season. The books they recommend are quite good, but there are many others equally wonderful (if not better).
This book is a wonderful resource for those who want to begin celebrating advent and the twelve days of Chistmas. It is also a lovey book for those who already celebrate these seasons, but would like an organized handbook to refer to throughout the season.