Christmas is coming. Like it or not, we’re already into November, and that means Christmas is just around the corner. And Christmas is a time for family traditions, both old and new.
(Please don’t hear me saying that having traditions is what Christmas is about. It’s not, and I know that. It’s about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Traditions are just a nice thing to make us humans feel “warm and fuzzy.”)
If you like traditions as much as I do, you’ll be very interested in the book I’m reviewing today: If He Had Not Come from David Nicholson. This beautiful hardcover book is a reissue of an old story by Nan F. Weeks (based on John 15:22) and tells of one boy’s journey through a world without Jesus. Have you ever stopped to think about what our existence would be like without him? Whether you’re a follower of Christ or not, his existence here impacts your everyday life in ways you don’t even realize. Ever been to a hospital? Probably wouldn’t have them without Christ. Without the celebration of Jesus’ birth, December 25th would be just another day; stores and factories would be open for business. How unpleasant does that sound?
In addition to the story, there is a discussion guide in the back of the book to spark a conversation between you and your children. The questions asked in this guide are very thought provoking. They delve into matters of faith as well as simply talking about the story and, yes, even traditions.
When I read this book myself a few weeks ago, I was taken with the both the story and the illustrations. When I read it to the boys earlier this week, they were enthralled as well. And even Will told me later that he’d read it after seeing it on my shelf a couple of weeks ago and thought it was really well done – both the story and the pictures. (Although he didn’t care for the pictures as much as I did. He tends to prefer the more digital looking pictures for kid books, which is ironic considering he draws – on paper – for a living.)
The boys knew this book had come, and they’d been asking about it for a while, but I wanted to wait until we were closer to the holiday season to break it out with them. Once we read it, though, I could tell that their little minds were working overtime. Sometimes I wish they’d go more “spiritual places” with their questions, but then I remind myself that they’re only 11 and 8. Deeper thoughts will come as they mature. An example of this is when Bobby (the main character in the book) wakes to find Christmas missing, Munchkin’s first question was “Were they robbed?” Seahawk immediately went to The Grinch. As we continued reading, though, they began to understand the point of the book better, and we even had a wonderful conversation using the discussion guide the next day. (I waited to break out those questions until the next day so they could have the night to process the story on their own, without me pushing them to find things that they wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.)
This full-cover, hardback book is available for $18.95 (you can also get an e-book version for $3.99) and is recommended for ages 6 and up. Based on the spiritual connotation of the story, I think that’s a fair age range. Smaller children will appreciate the pictures (and being read to), but you’ll be able to have wonderful discussions with your older children.
This would be a wonderful book for any home or church library. I can definitely see reading this and thinking through the prospect of what Christmas is really all about – and how different (awful) our world would be without Christ – each year with my boys. What a wonderful tradition to start!