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Advent and Christmas Resources

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Advent and Christmas Resources

by Elizabeth Eichling Gatewood, Deer Run Alumna

In past years, these early December days have been filled with activity. Some years I’ve hosted Thanksgiving and am preparing to host family for Christmas. I’ve made elaborate grocery lists, stocked the fridge in my basement, and bought extra sets of sheets. Other years, I’ve traveled for one or both holidays, and have been consumed with the logistical feat that is packing up three small children for long road trips.

Usually we welcome Advent with a full calendar and the smells of a freshly cut North Carolina Christmas tree wafting through the house.

Griff and Elizabeth Gatewood – Christmas 2019

But this year, we’re not hosting or shopping, packing or planning. The calendar for December is strangely empty. My family and I are tucking into the house with a family-wide Covid diagnosis despite our rigid and uncompromising precautions.

“Advent begins in the dark,” writes pastor and theologian Fleming Rutledge. No year has this been more true for us. In the dark we cry out to God with our deepest questions and laments. In the dark we wait. In the dark we hope and strain towards the light that we know will come.

With quarantines and light holiday party schedules, many of us will have plenty of time for cozy fireside reading this Advent. Give yourself the gift of setting aside your devices (just like at camp!) and curling up with a good book and perhaps a child or two in your lap.

Below are a few of the Advent and Christmas books we love. To be clear, we will not use every single book or resource every day. (“Ok, kids! Let’s sit down for our two hours of daily Advent devotionals!” ha!) We’ll instead prepare it like a feast and taste from different things at different times. We will have intentional times of family devotionals, but will also have books scattered about that can nourish us at different points of the day.

 

A FEW OF THE MANY WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS PICTURE BOOKS WE LOVE:

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona (Tomie dePaola)

The Birds of Bethlehem (Tomie dePaola)

Good King Wenceslas (John Neale)

Apple Tree Christmas (Trinka Hakes Noble)

Joy to the World: Tomie’s Christmas Stories (Tomie dePaola)

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (Susan Wojciechowski)

Twelve Days of Christmas in the North Woods (Frances Tyrrell)

Stick Man (Julia Donaldson)

Construction Site on Christmas Night (Sherri Duskey Rinker)

Christmas in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree (Robert Barry)

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story (Gloria Houston)

 

A FEW ADVENT BOOKS AND RESOURCES THAT WE’LL DRAW FROM:

Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ (Fleming Rutledge) – we have started reading aloud her beautiful advent sermons in the evenings

The Art of Advent: A Painting a Day from Advent to Epiphany (Jane Williams)

God With Us: Advent Art Devotions (Rebecca Zipp at ahumbleplace.com) – a beautiful resource for children and families that includes scripture, a hymn, art, and poetry

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas (Ann Voskamp)

Hallelujah: Cultivating Advent Traditions with Handel’s Messiah (Cindy Rollins)

The Story of Christmas Story Book Set and Advent Calendar (Carolyn Croll) (I grew up with this set and can still remember the excitement of reading a tiny book ornament each day.)

God With Us (edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe) – a lovely devotional by a collection of theological writers; includes art and scripture

Shadow and Light: A Journey into Advent (Tsh Oxenreider) – a friend just delivered this book to my doorstep and I’m excited to dive in to these simple and rich reflections

 

Elizabeth is a wife, mom, violinist, and writer. She spent thirteen wonderful summers at camp and misses hollering at kids across Chestnut Cove to remind them not to paddle on the same side of the canoe. She cherishes the way that camp formed her in friendships, adventure, and faith. She lives in the foothills of North Carolina with her husband, a pastor, and their three small children. She writes theology at www.householdtheology.com. Find her @householdtheology or householdtheology@gmail.com.

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