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December 17, 2012

Christmas Reads: The Christmas Birthday Story by Margaret Laurence

the-christmas-birthday-storyI hadn’t heard of The Christmas Birthday Story by Margaret Laurence until I read a collection of her letters A Very Large Soul in October. And I was intrigued by the sound of this book, “…a re-telling of the Nativity story, for use with small children. I wanted to tell it in such a way that small children would understand and be able to connect with it. I really wanted to emphasize the birth of the beloved child into a loving family.” For me, Christmas has always been about new life and family, and not any particular baby or family either, so I appreciated Laurence’s approach, particularly as she has religious knowledge to do it properly. Here is the Christmas story but without angels, God doesn’t get a mention. It’s a very human story of family, of travel, of a carpenter and his wife who are going to have a baby. The only thing otherwordly is that most peculiar star.

“That child Jesus grew up to be a man, and he was strong and hard-working, like Joseph the carpenter. He was gentle and kind, like Mary his mother. And he was something else, too. He was a wise teacher and a friend to all people./ So we remember him always, and at Christmas time we celebrate his birthday…”

Long out of print, copies are hard to come by online, but I am glad I tracked one down for us. It’s a beautiful story, ideal for those of us who are not religious but want our children to understand our culture, why we celebrate at this time of year. Helen Lucas’s illustrations are dated, but my child has been raised on vintage picture books and hasn’t noticed.

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