Book Traditions for Advent and Christmas

I’m excited to share that I’ve been invited to be part of the Advent series hosted by Bonnie at A Knotted Life.   Kicking off the series this Sunday will be Lisa Hendey.  I truly look forward to following along with it, and of course I’m delighted to be included among the bloggers writing guest posts.  I will be writing for the feast of St. Nicholas.

As a little sneak preview, I am writing about–surprise, surprise–books for Advent and Christmastime.

But I wanted to share here in a more general way how I have used books during Advent, as well as offer some resources and suggestions.  After I wrote in part of my November column for The Catholic Post about some newer books to help keep Advent well, I realize that literature (and for kids in particular, picture books)  can be just as good as devotional works, to get in the spirit of the Advent and Christmas seasons.

Here are some of the nuts & bolts of how we use literature during Advent at our house.

I keep a basket of Advent- and Christmas-themed books tucked away in a closet.   I’ve kept this basket for years, and added to it over time via book sales, library cast-offs and Barnes & Noble “after Christmas” (though during Christmas season) sales. There are perhaps a dozen books that we truly treasure, but the rest are seasonal enough to hold interest and keep us reading.  There are about 50 books in our Advent/Christmas book basket, and I usually also order a lot of other books from the library, either new ones, or old classics we don’t own.   So there is plenty to read this time of year.

I began the Advent/Christmas basket of books when my oldest (now 15!) was a toddler.  I learned about the tradition from Catholic moms on various e-groups (in the Wild West, before we got all our great ideas from blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest).

At that time, some moms shared on the e-groups about how they wrapped (sometimes in liturgically correct purple or pink) each one of the books well ahead of Advent, and then unwrapped one each day of Advent and Christmastime.  

That idea makes me tired just thinking about it, so needless to say that has never happened here.   I used to have some guilt, like I wasn’t quite “mom” enough to pick out and wrap dozens of books.  Now that I’m a little wiser, I leave that behind.

In reality, I feel accomplished simply that I am able to keep those books tucked away all year and bring out the basket at the beginning of Advent.

I won’t list all the books in our family’s basket (though I will share one special book on Bonnie’s blog next week, and a few others later in Advent here).  For one, I think there are fewer than a dozen that we cherish.  Mostly, though, it’s because so many moms over the years have made some great lists that I don’t need to re-invent the wheel.

Here are just a few sources if you are interested in starting this tradition at your house:

*Elizabeth Foss, whose endless energy and generosity has enriched her own family and shared freely with other families great book suggestions and themes, takes special care with Advent.

*Mary Ellen Barrett has a blog devoted to keeping Advent at O Night Divine.  Here are some of her many, many book suggestions.

*Jessica at Shower of Roses has a nicely curated list of Advent books (and trust me, I hold nothing but admiration for her for actually wrapping the books, God bless her).

*for those who would like a book rather than a web resource, Cay Gibson’s amazing Christmas Mosaic  has a list of dozens of books, crafts, recipes and other ideas for making Advent and Christmastime special for families.

Picture books and Christmas-themed literature are unique and wonderful to move and inspire us during this season of preparation, and then as we celebrate Christmas.

Do you have an Advent and Christmastime book tradition?

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