Our new home was a tiny town on the prairie where the wind whipped the snow into bullets, and with Christmas approaching, it wasn’t the weather on our minds. All we could think about were the things we were greatly missing.
Sledding hills filled with laughter. Ice skating on ponds. Epic parties with friends who came in packs like crayons.
The new town was nothing like the old home. No hills, no ponds. And friends came in packs of one or two.
Christmas seemed dismal.
When it came time to get a Christmas tree, a local farmer offered to let us come on his land and search the tree line by the river.
Christmas hope soared.
One of my all-time favorite Christmas traditions was picking out a Christmas tree. With sleds and ice skates, we hiked through the woods looking for the perfect tree. We laughed, sledded, skated, and brought home our perfect tree.
When we went, the snow was barely an inch thick, and the hills weren’t sledding hills. We plodded through the mud and cold looking for that perfect tree.
And while the trees were evergreen, they weren’t the Christmas type. These trees made Charlie Brown’s tree look perfect.
Not wanting to disappoint the farmer and needing a tree, we cut one down. There was a branch every foot or so that looked like it would break if you hung more than two ornaments on it.
No sledding. No skating. No friends. And the ugliest Christmas tree. Ever.
No one said anything. We should be grateful. We should be happy.
No one was.
We dutifully put it in the house and tried to make the ugliest Christmas tree ever beautiful. Christmas music played as the ornaments carefully balanced on the fragile branches.
We really tried.
No one said a word. My mom cried a little.
And then something beautiful happened.
My sister sneezed.
And then she sneezed again and again and again.
She was greatly allergic to that tree.
Never was a tree so quickly deflocked and removed. My dad saved the day by saying, “Well, I guess we’ll have to go buy a tree.”
And we did. With much joy.
While picking out the Christmas tree is still one of my favorite traditions, snuggling on the couch with my daughters and reading with the Christmas books with the tree lights on is now one of my top favorite traditions.
Since the season is short and you are very busy, here is a list of the best Christmas books for kids.
This Christmas book is a cute book with drawings that are both funny and beautiful. It’s not too hard to figure out where a camel is going in a Christmas book, but the ending has a super sweet message. It touches on the true meaning of Christmas. God loved and gave His Son so that we love and give back.
It’s just candy, right? Not in this case. My daughters have loved candy canes since this book. They honestly don’t like the taste so much, but they hold the candy canes and talk about how it shows us about Jesus and the reason for His birth.
Santa Claus is everywhere at Christmas. Too often we discuss him riding in a sleigh giving gifts to good girls and boys. But this precious book gives children the story behind Santa Claus and the reason for his generous spirit.
This is a beautiful picture book that grabs children’s attention about a young fox too busy playing to gather a gift or tell anyone about the new baby. Later when the young fox feels ashamed about not having a gift but meets the new baby, the fox sees that Christmas is not about getting things but about spreading joy.
Christmas is coming, but problems abound. No skating on the pond this year due to a mean old man, and the arrival of a sister throws Mr. Whiskers in a tizzy. But friends come together to help and save Christmas, and ice skating, in a great story that shows how friends and family can make anything a merry Christmas.
This is one of the classic Christmas books. There is something about this book that children get, whether it’s the horror when the Grinch tries to steal Christmas or the understanding that no one can steal the true meaning of Christmas.
I love Max Lucado’s books for children. This Christmas book did not disappoint. Joshua, the crippled lamb, can’t run and play like the others. While some people don’t like the word “crippled” in the title, the book shows a beautiful message that God has special blessings for those who feel insufficient and God uses us even when the world turns away.
Ever have a problem with your children thinking Christmas is about getting presents? Sit down with this one and then find someone in your community to give presents to. By the way, older people who are alone love getting sugar cookies and coloring from young children. It doesn’t have to be fancy, for they love the reminder of when their children were small. And your children will have a blast giving something they made.
Yes, yes, I know. The Wise Men came later. But we use this story at Christmas, and why not? It’s about giving. This book has some beautiful drawings in it, and it shows Jesus as a toddler.
Christmas Chapter Books
This is a great book to read out loud together, even if your children are reading themselves. Armand, an old homeless man on the streets of Paris, finds three starving children. It’s a great reminder of our blessings and the true meaning of Christmas.
Ronnie and Aunt Martha agree to tend a lighthouse for two weeks while the keeper takes a vacation. Aunt Martha promises Ronnie that they will be home for Christmas, but the keeper doesn’t return. Can Christmas be saved? And what is the reason the lighthouse keeper didn’t keep his word?
Read this! Seriously. Push through the times when you’re tired. This book is awesome. This book, and the rest of the series – Tabitha’s Travels, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Ishtar’s Odyssey – are broken into the days of the Advent, so you will read a little every night until Christmas.
This book may be my most favorite Christmas book, and it’s certainly on my list of my most all-time favorite books. Annette and Lucius are enemies, but when Lucius causes tragedy to strike Annette’s little brother, Dani, Annette sets on a path to destroy Lucius. But as Lucius strives to make things right, love takes over and works God’s perfect will. Told from both Lucius and Annette’s perspectives, this book is a powerful story filled with Christmas traditions from Switzerland.
Most Christmas books are super sweet. This one is super funny. And if you’ve been around church for long, you’ve probably seen this happen in front of you. It will make you laugh out loud while bringing the spirit of Christmas to you.
Every year J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a letter as if from Father Christmas to his children. This is a delightful book that’s often ignored. Tales of naughty reindeer, an accident prone polar bear, and more fill the pages. Creative, funny, and full of Christmas cheer!
In The First Christmas, Enid Blyton tells the story of Jesus’ birth is a simple, chapter book form. Great for 9-12 year olds who are bringing to read on their own.
It’s been over 30 years since we gleefully threw that ugly Christmas out of the house. One day I was chatting with my sister about Christmas growing up.
She said something that surprised me.
“I can’t remember one bad Christmas.”
When I reminded her of the ugly Christmas tree, we found ourselves laughing.
Yes, we had rough Christmases. And if you’re in the middle of a rough Christmas, know that I am praying for you. But also know that this is not the end.
The spirit of Christmas is not in the getting or the gifts. Sometimes it’s family, but that isn’t really what it’s about.
It’s about a Baby in a manger.
Much like that onion that C.S. Lewis talks about in The Last Battle, Christmas goes deeper than that.
Christmas is about hope in flesh, hope made real.
The world lived in sin with no hope of escape. Until Christmas.
Christmas is a yearly reminder that God always takes the bad, the broken, the evil, the hopelessness, the despair, and turns into good.
Not just good.
God turns the darkness into joy.
So, when we talk about the spirit of Christmas, we’re really talking about the power of God to rescue us from situations too big or evil for us to do anything about. We’re talking about the love of God who was willing to leave perfect Heaven to live in the dirt and the sin of this world.
Just like we kicked that ugly Christmas tree out of the house, we then replaced it with a tree from the store. A beautiful one.
God takes the ugly and makes it beautiful.
So, take some time to settle on the couch with a blanket and some hot chocolate. Turn on the Christmas tree lights and open a book with your loved ones.
May you find the spirit of Christmas with your loved ones, even if your tree is quite ugly.
What Christmas books do you love to read? What about books for adults? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. If you’re looking for Christmas gifts for your Narnian, check out the ideas in What Father Christmas Packed for Your Narnian.