Apologies if it’s too early for you, but I’m afraid I just can’t hold out any longer to start Christmas planning. I really try to make advent a big thing in our house, with the aim of spreading the focus from a purely materialistic one of presents on Christmas Day, to a whole month of celebrations, preparations, good will and family time. I will write about other ways in which I try (and occasionally succeed) to do this another time, but for tonight, I bring you our Advent Library.
Each day of advent the children get to choose a new book from our Advent Library sack. This year these will be individually wrapped (in old newspaper to try and be a bit greener) and put in the sack, to avoid the blatant rummaging and cherry picking that happened last year! Once picked out, each book gets put in the advent library box and they can read them as many times as they like over the Christmas period.
Each year I have bought one or two, growing as they get older, and replacing some of the slightly duff ones from earlier years. Here is this year’s collection.
We have quite a range of topics. Some purely based around the winter season with no reference to Christmas specifically. Some very human ones, just about families celebrating Christmas. Some about Father Christmas. Some full of magic. Some full of religion. Some really funny. Some very serious.
We are not a religious family, not in any way, but I think it is important to include the religious story behind Christmas. This year for the first time I have included a book about Hanukkah to try and start discussions potentially about other festivals that people celebrate at this time of year. Very keen to find for other good non-Christian based winter festival books if anyone has a recommendation.
Despite all the Father Christmas books, we are also not followers of that particular religion either. In our house we say that the people who love us bring our presents. We say that other people believe in Father Christmas, and if they believe in him, then he is real to them. We try to encourage the idea that other people have different beliefs to us and that is a wonderful thing as it makes us all different and special in our own ways.
People have questioned our decision not to do Father Christmas. And occasionally I question it too. Am I robbing my children from some of the magic of Christmas? I really don’t think so. I think that Christmas is pretty amazingly magical anyway without needing to get an old, hairy man involved. And I just can’t square the lying aspect of it I’m afraid. I do everything I can to be honest with my kids about stuff, and Father Christmas seems like a pretty big lie. So we read stories about him, and know that he’s real to other people because they believe in him, but in our house, our presents come from the people who love us.
I just love Christmas stories, and these are all of my favourites, in the younger age range at least. Always love to find new ones though, so very open to recommendations!