So after we watched the Mormon Messages for the FHE lesson (see previous blog post), my 10 year old fireball of energy suggested something I really wanted to do for the activity (which is rare): have a fire in the fireplace. Of course you can’t have a fire in the fireplace without sitting by it, and that just begs for stories. So even though we had just had a lesson, I was able to sneak more “lessons” in by reading stories. Love it! By the end of the day, I just want to sit and read.
We have had a fire in the fireplace a lot since the windstorm, when we did it out of necessity to keep warm with the power outage, thanks to my fireball. I have never built a fire in the fireplace, always leaving it to my husband to do or my older son. Well, this fireball proved to me that he was old enough to do it with my husband gone. My husband used to think it was a real chore to do a fire but now with my son leading out and helping, I like to think he doesn’t think it’s so bad. We had a fire on Saturday night after our Christmas shopping to Smith and Edwards and dinner on Saturday, then we did it Sunday night, and then last night.
It is so fun! I love the way the house smells all smoky and the snuggly feelings of rest and relaxation and warmth, and the reminder that Christ is the source of all light and warmth, contrasting with the dark coldness outside.
Sunday night we listened to the LDS Church’s production of “A Christmas Carol” (http://mormonchannel.org/a-christmas-carol) and then Monday night the kids actually preferred me to read more of the actual text to them. The Church’s production is very well done, but I find my mind wandering when I can’t read it and I then I don’t know what is going on. I also wonder if the fully dramatized version was too scary for the kids, it’s so well done, especially the ghosts.
I also read them a story from the book The Gifts of Christmas, published by Deseret Book. It’s a collection of short stories mostly by LDS authors. Linda Eyre tells a story in there about her family’s trip to Bolivia one year that was their Christmas. They helped a village dig trenches to pipe water from wells into their village center. I wondered what the Eyres have been up to lately and Googled them. They were my heroes when I was growing up and I eagerly looked forward to the day when I would have a houseful of kids like Linda. I have loved reading her books. I delightfully found their daughter Saren’s blog, with a blog post about sitting around the fire/and or Christmas tree lit up, listening to stories! You can read it here http://looslifamily.blogspot.com/2011/12/above-all-else-mothers-tell-little-ones.html
I really like what she shared, a quote from Emmeline B. Wells, from 1901. It still applies today!:
“The olden times were the days of comparative seclusion from the outside world, and we had to depend mainly upon our own resources for amusement…In those far-off days, however, the children were as much on tip-toe with expectancy as in the present day when Santa Claus time comes round. Then we had to tell them stories to make up for the things we lacked. Now there is so much to occupy the time that mothers have no moment to spare, evidently, to tell them stories at all. They depend on church and the kindergarten teachers to do all this for them while they, the dear blessed mothers, lose all the sweetest hours life can bring. To sit at evening round the fire and listen to the children’s prattle and sing them the old-fashioned carols and tell them over and over the stories they long to hear, makes one forget care and trouble, and draws the mother and children closer together with ties inseparable that can never be wholly broken apart. The mother, who denies herself this privilege for the sake of some outside engagement, or even to do extra household work, is doing herself as well as the children an injustice….
“Children do not have too much love not even at Christmas, no, not that, but they very often have too many toys and sweetmeats. How many children there are in the world who long, more earnestly, for real love than they do for aught else. There is no comfort or luxury that will supply its place even in the heart of a little child. There is more happiness because of love than from any other gift…
“Above all else, mothers, tell the little ones stories at Christmas…”
It makes it easier for me to just have have everyone bed down on the floor by the fire and lie down to listen and fall asleep while I read. (We did stick the toddler in front of Barney downstairs because he was being way to rambunctious).
So here’s a list of what we read at Christmas time (if you want some pictures, click on Saren’s link above and you will find some pictures of books):
We like the following for picture books: I’ve starred the ones that are more Christ-centered. That means they focus on the nativity story or on characters who are giving and consciously striving to follow Jesus, instead of just getting or talking about Santa Claus. The ones that are written by an LDS author have LDS next to the title.
A Night Without Darkness: A Nephite Story of Christmas*, LDS
Room for a Little One*
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey* (watch the movie after you read it, it’s so sweet)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Little Fir Tree
A Christmas Dress for Ellen*, LDS (President Monson)
A Christmas Bell for Anya*, LDS
Christmas Oranges*, LDS
The Last Straw*, LDS
The Legend of the Candy Cane*
The Christmas SweaterT (based on the chapter book below), LDS (Glenn Beck)
Christmas for a Dollar*, :LDS
A Candle in the Window*, :LDS
On Christmas Day in the Morning* by Pearl S. Buck, (illustrated by an LDS man, Mark Buehner. The LDS Church has a video based on this story, made by BYU, called The Gift, I think.)
Snowmen at Christmas
For chapter books I love:
Holly Claus (this one is soooo long, 544 pages! but it is a great battle between evil and good, where good triumphs. Holly is Santa’s daughter. It’s a delightful fantasy. We actually read it almost all after Christmas when we had a lot more time.)
The Christmas Thief* LDS by Carol Lynn Pearson (very cute story)
The Christmas Sweater* LDS by Glenn Beck
The Christmas Jars* LDS by Jason Wright
then there are the chapters on Christmas in the Little House books that show how sweet and simple Christmas can be.
I don’t read all the chapter books every Christmas, maybe just one or two, by reading a chapter every night for a bedtime story.
Please share your ideas! I love the proliferation of Christmas books. We read some after Christmas, which I love, because it stretches out the season. January doesn’t seem so dull with these bright Christmas books.
Maybe we can keep this up all through the winter with non-Christmas stories. It sure makes bedtime more inviting.