Monday, December 15, 2008

Keeping Christmas

Whether you come from a strong religious background or not, most families that identify themselves as Christian celebrate Christmas. And even if your celebrations lean more towards the secular traditions (as mine do), there's still a pull to share with children the foundation of traditions both historical and religious. The pull to share this may be your personal faith or it may be to explore the diversity of people's beliefs.

One way I intend to share with Linus the religious story as well as the spirit of Christmas is through a favorite book. One of my absolute favorite holiday stories is The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie DePaola. In this story set in Mexico, a little girl, Lucida, is worried about what gift she is going to give the baby Jesus following the traditional processional to the manger scene. Her mother became ill before they were able to complete their family's gift. As she approaches the manger, Lucida meets a wise woman who tells her not to worry because "any gift is beautiful because it is given." Taking this to heart, Lucida quickly grabs an armful of the bountiful green weeds outside the church. Ignoring the whispers as she approaches the manager, Lucida places her gift next to the baby Jesus. As Lucida prays, the weeds turn into bright red stars and so became la Flor de Nochebuena (the Flower of the Holy Night)- the poinsettia.

I love that this story can generate a discussion both of the biblical story as well as the spirit of giving. Personally, I like to read it to remind myself that the act of giving to my family and friends is enough whether I can afford a high dollar gift or just the gift of my time. That I have taken the time to focus on my family and give a little bit of myself to them is a lot of what Christmas is to me.


If you have elementary age children, you might consider expanding on the story by crafting some poinsettia flowers to place on your tree or around your home letting the sight of them remind everyone what giving is all about.


Chelsea + Jonathan said...

I like that story. In the days of the ball-point "flower pen" obsession, I made poinsettia flower pens for my residents for the Holidays and they loved them! What a good message, too.

I think we should champion the adopt-a-family cause for the larger B. family next year :)

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing this book suggestion! I also like Jack Kent's "A Christmas Pi˜nata"... I don't see that our library has it, though.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

A beautiful book (I do love me some Tomie daPaola). And it points out also that the whole point of God is to take everything ugly and worthless and human and make it beautiful through His power. Our effort is to have faith. That tale of the poinsettia always chokes me up.

Midwest Mom said...

Thanks for sharing that title. I haven't read it! We have our library playgroup on Wednesday, and now I have a great book to be sure to bring home. :)

Merry Christmas! -MM

Daisy said...

Tomie dePaolo's illustrations make the story even more beautiful. On another note, look into the Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. :)