Monday, November 29, 2010

Un-Grinching and Embracing Christmas

I'm one of those people that likes to start Christmas the minute the turkey is eaten on Thanksgiving. I like my tree up, my nativity set out, the decorations glittering and all of that. But this year was a little tough to do that because we've all gone down for the count with a nasty virus. When one of us feels a tiny bit better, we drag ourselves out of wherever we're burrowing and scavenge food for the others. Then we burrow again. Our only decoration up so far is the Christmas wreath on the front door because that only took five seconds. So it's been that kind of week.


But last night, I finally got to experience my first taste of Christmas when I pulled this out to read again:

It took me a few minutes to read, even going slowly, but I love the message so much. It's a hopeful, gentle but firm reminder of how every part of the Christmas season, even the crazy baking/shopping/party parts of the season, can serve as symbols of Christ if we let them. This will be our Family Home Evening lesson tonight before we work as a family to put up our Christmas swag and sparkle, so that we can discuss what each symbol means as we wrangle it into place to enjoy for the next month.


After you read it the first time, you must go back through and simply absorb Jana's paintings. They are rich and simple and beautiful. My two favorites are here
and here:

Neither of them are straightforward Christmas pictures, but they make my spirit happy. So does this one:


It's a simple, powerful book and a new part of my permanent Christmas tradition. If you would like to make it part of yours, simply leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered to win this for yourself. I'll pick a winner on Friday. It makes a wonderful stocking stuffer for family members or a gift for someone you visit teach. You can purchase additional copies here.


As a side note, the story of how Jana made these paintings is wonderful. I love Christmas miracles, even when they happen in July. Charrette (a/k/a Jana Winters Parkin) tells the story here of what it took to get this book into our grubby little hands, and I love it. I love the message of hope and faith and perserverance, and how God steps in after everything we can do.


Have a wonderful Christmas, everyone. I hope you find signs of Christ every day this season.

26 comments:

Kristina P. said...

I love Jana. And would love this book.

charrette said...

This is wonderful. Thank you, Melanie!
I hope you all start feeling better soon. Advil was my best friend last night too. :)

Love your title, btw. Un-Grinching and Embracing are perfect descriptors. LOVE!

Susan said...

I love this post. I'm having a hard time getting into the spirit since we won't be around for Christmas this year. Thanks for giving me a little boost.

Karen Peterson said...

I'm sorry you've been sick! That's no way to start the season.

This book looks beautiful.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

TOTALLY agree. I love this book so much. Felt exactly the same way.

Hope you are all feeling better!

You're so cute. Even when you're sick.

Melinda said...

I would love this book also, I've been trying very hard the last few years to teach my kids about the true meaning of Christmas. I loved reading Charrette's blog on how she did this, so cool!

LisAway said...

What a great idea for FHE before decorating!! We've already decorated but I'm going to plan FHE about the symbols. And I love the way you describe Jana's story. Lovely.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I'm the same way. I love to put Christmas up as soon as Thanksgiving is over. However, this year I had company and then a signing and now I'm thinking Christmas won't hit my house until this weekend. But it will come.

I hope you're feeling better.

Thanks for the review on the Christmas book. One more to add to my list.

Justin said...

Indeed--wonderfully inspiring!

Kimberly said...

You summed up my feelings about the book so, so beautifully. I've been meaning to write about her book as well, it's so powerful.

Hope you all feel better soonly!

Dedee said...

Such a spectacular book. And I love your post. I believe I shall try to make it apply to my life a little more today, since I'm feeling rather grinchy.

You're fabulous.

Shelane said...

Love it. Gorgeous watercolors.

Heather Richardson said...

Thanks Melanie for a chance to win Jana's book!
Count me in.

Becca said...

I want to give this one away, too. Sign me up.

NIKOL said...

This book looks amazing. Pick me, random number generator! Pick me!!

Linda said...

I love reading everything you write! Which brings me to the question......tell me again when you book will on the market?????
Love you!

L.T. Elliot said...

This is exactly how I feel about Jana's book. It truly does uplift and her paintings are nothing short of miraculous.

donkeybray said...

I am intrigued! Lots of mentions of this book everywhere. I'd love a copy.

Kim Coates said...

I haven't read this yet, but I really need more things like this in my yearly Christmas traditions. Thanks for the great idea.

Lara said...

I am so sorry you guys are sick. That is no fun during the holidays!

I am in love with this book and I really want one. I will eventually buy one when all the giveaways run out, but I have to try, right?

Hope you feel better soon at your house!

DeNae said...

Ick to sick. And I loved Jana's book, too. Your review is so much better than mine, but I hope Jana realized how much I really did love her book. Her whole house is like that book; every wall is hung with these beautiful paintings. What must it be like to be able to decorate with the works of your own hands?

Hope you all feel better soon.

Andrew & Sarah Clawson said...

Melanie- hope you get better soon! I would love this book. I don't know if you've ever heard or read the book "The Best/Worst Christmas Pagent Ever"? It's our annual Christmas story to read and gets my hubby every time. Love it!

Sarah said...

ARG... it didn't post my comment (or maybe it thought I was spam somehow)... Anyway, this book looks fantastic, and Jana's story makes it all the more inspirational. Those pictures are beautiful.

Cindy said...

I, too, love the FHE idea. Pick me!!

Rebecca said...

Ok, Ok. I'm an avid blog reader - not so good at blogging anymore - but I'm a terrible comment leaver. You deserve better. I really do enjoy reading your blog though you would have no idea...since I've never bothered to tell you. So, pick me! Yes, I DO deserve it:) Hope you feel better. Can't wait till your book hits the shelves - truly exciting!

Laura Moffitt said...

I was blown away by all that has gone into this book. The paintings, well the ones I have seen, are amazing and I understand why the author let her create the pictures from scratch, who wouldn't!