It’s November 5th and people are already putting up Christmas trees. While I consider myself among those who celebrate early, I’m chopping-down-the-tree-Thanksgiving-morning type so even this feels a bit premature. However, since I’ve had kiddos, I find I need to start prepping in early November for the Christmas season because I want the holidays to be rich and meaningful for us as a family. We aren’t into extravagance when it comes to holiday traditions but we do seek to do things purposefully. Instead of adding in new things each year just because, we weigh the monetary cost along with the time it takes to add new things and try to make something part of our family traditions if it adds significance to the season rather than add to the hustle and bustle. Natasha Metzler’s new book – released just this Tuesday! – is one of those significant things that adds to the season rather than just take up time and feel Christmas-y.
Christmas! The Whole Story of the God Who Loves is a collection of glimpses into the lives of those that take us from Adam to Jesus. Each day’s story is just the right length to reflect the substance and richness of each part of the entire story of God sending Jesus for us but also short enough to hold my 3 year old’s attention. I’m grateful Natasha took the time and care to put together a book that is beautiful, well written, and understandable by children and adults. I enjoy reading it as well and read it on my own first before reading it with my children, something I don’t often do with things aimed at kids. It was a breath of fresh air into a story that I’ve seemingly heard hundreds of times…yet I loved having a fresh perspective and a bigger look at the entire story as God intended us to see Christmas as.
Each page is accompanied by a beautiful illustration that visually communicates the feeling of that portion of the Christmas story. For the little ones, there is also a little bug hidden on each page that keeps their eyes busy while they’re listening to the story (great for my little squirmer!). For older kids – who can, of course, still find the the bug – there is also a “learn more” extension for each story that deepens their understanding of God’s purpose for each person involved in the Christmas story. The teacher in me loves the differentiation she provides with this extra resource!
The part that impressed on my heart the most with this book, though, was how I could read it as a devotion of sorts. Yes, it was written to be read as a family to children. Yes, she speaks in much clearer language than necessary if writing to adults exclusively. But there’s something about making the same story a Christian kid hears every December come alive that gives me new ways to think about, be in awe of, and worship our Great God. While I’m grateful for this book for the times I’ll get to read it with my kids, I’m also thankful for the times I’ll get to read it and draw closer to God. Reading the stories reminds me of the bigness of God, being outside the story and using normal, everyday people (like us!) to accomplish His incredible purpose.
Throughout the book, she adds nuggets of truth and wisdom that jump out at me as well as are understood by my 3 year old daughter. One such day – day 15, tagged “obedient” – she retells the story of the widow and the oil with the prophet Elisha. The following is an excerpt from the end of her recounting of the story:
They picked up that one little container and started pouring the oil into the new containers. Oil kept coming and coming and coming, until every jar was full! It was a miracle! Because when God wants something to multiply—nothing can stop it. And when God speaks—miracles happen. And what He says is even if it wasn’t. And even though it looked like God had forgotten His promise to send someone to fight the snake and save the people—He hadn’t. Even when the people couldn’t see it, God was working to make it possible for every person to be His friend again.
How much do I need to remember that what He says IS even if it wasn’t? What truth.
This book is a fabulous addition to any family’s Christmas traditions. I’m excited to make it part of ours!