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Monday, December 1, 2014

A New Family Tradition


I get so excited when the holidays roll around. I can't wait to start blasting Christmas music, decorating our house, baking etc etc. Our daughter is just starting to understand the concept of Santa and of course PRESENTS. Let me tell you, it's really easy to get caught up in the gift frenzy with the littles. So when I thought about starting the Advent Calendar I wanted to use it as an opportunity to instill some values. I have seen the idea of a book Advent before and thought - what a great way to teach our daughter about the REAL spirit of the holidays....which is about kindness, generosity, love, and family. 


The idea is to wrap twenty five books and open one a night with the calendar. Here is our Advent CalendarIt is nothing fancy and totally reminds me of the one we had growing up. If you go on Pinterest you can find some spectacular DIY ones.




And then, get wrapping!!


I haven't decided if we will wrap them every year. I might keep them in a basket by the advent calendar next year. But since it's our first year - I wanted to make it fun. (it's a lot of wrapping folks, but goes quickly) 

I kept our list of books pretty secular. I just tried to find a good variety that our 3 year old daughter would understand and carry a message of kindness, giving, hope and love. I am so excited to read these to her. Hope you enjoy my list. Happy Holidays!

The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
Little Teeka thought she had to be firm with the reindeer to get them ready for Santa's important flight, but when her bossy yelling only got their antlers tangled up, she knew she had to try something different. 


Mr. Willowby's Christmas tree is too tall, so he trims off the top and gives the top to the upstairs maid for her tree, and she finds it too tall, so she cuts off the top, which the gardener uses for his tree, but it is too tall . It's the story of how one tree becomes the perfect tree for many people, and animals, as it keeps getting clipped shorter and shorter and passed down to someone else.


The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown
Once there was a tree that stood in a field away from the other trees. It longed to be part of the forest—or part of anything at all. After many lonely years, its dream came true. And the little fir tree's life changed forever!

The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert
Long ago, a brave little girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa's elves. So she leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbor prepare for the holiday, then she straps on her skis, and heads out into the snowy landscape. From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa. 

The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll
The mayor of Mouseville has announced a contest for the biggest snowman. Clayton and Desmond race against the clock to compete for the prize, but soon realize that they can only build so high! With a lot of snow and a super-strong friendship, the two mice discover that by working together they can build a monumental snowman.

Night Tree by Eve Bunting
By moonlight in the quiet forest, a young boy and his family decorate their favorite tree with popcorn, apples, tangerines, and sunflower-seed balls as a gift for the animals of the woods. This beautifully illustrated story of a family’s unusual tradition brings to life the true spirit of Christmas.


Finding Christmas by Helen Ward
A young girl wanders through the snow on Christmas Eve, looking for a gift for a very special someone (her baby brother, we later learn). She happens upon a glowing toy shop, but before she can select a present, a mysterious old gentleman--Santa himself--scoops up everything in the store. All seems to be lost until Santa sends the perfect gift spinning from his sleigh, helping the girl find Christmas after all.

Winter's Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan
It may be Christmastime but on a small, forlorn farm the holiday season is best forgotten, along with painful memories of loved ones lost. Mother Nature has other plans, however, and a chance snowstorm brings together two unlikely hearts, one human and one beast, yet both yearning for comfort, companionship, and that most elusive gift of all, hope. 

An overgrown pine is always being passed by for Christmas. The birds, deer and squirrel help make their special friend's wish come true.

The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville's holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning of the holiday.

This beloved story stars Rudolph, a young reindeer with a glowing nose. When the other reindeer make fun of him, Rudolph runs away. But with the help of a misfit elf named Herbie and a prospector named Yukon Cornelius, Rudolph learns that you shouldn't run away from your problems. 

In The Berenstain Bears and The Joy of Giving Brother and Sister Bear can’t wait for Christmas and all the presents they’ll open. But during the Christmas Eve pageant, something special happens! The Bear cubs learn a very valuable lesson about the joy of giving to others.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
In a shabby New York flat, Della sobs as she counts the few coins she has saved to buy a Christmas present for her husband, Jim. A gift worthy of her devotion will require a great sacrifice: selling her long, beautiful hair. Jim, meanwhile, has made a sacrifice for Della that is no less difficult. As they exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, the discovery of what each has done fills them with despair, until they realize that the true gifts of Christmas can be found more readily in their humble apartment than in any fine store.

An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
This is a holiday story close to Patricia Polacco's heart. Frankie was her grandmother's youngest brother, and every year she and her family remember this tale of a little boy who learned--and taught--an important lesson about giving, one Christmas long ago.

A Christmas Dress For Ellen by Thomas Monson
On Christmas Eve, 1927, in the prairie town of Hillsspring, Alberta, Canada, a young mother, Mary Jeppson, was getting her five small children ready for bed. Her heart was full of sorrow, for there was nothing to fill the stockings, and there would be only a little much for breakfast. But George Schow, their mailman, had a surprise in store. Could he brave the coming storm and bitter cold to deliver a Christmas miracle? 

The Longest Christmas List Ever by Gregg Spiridellis
Little Trevor is determined to not leave ANYTHING off his Christmas list so he carries it with him everywhere he goes...for an entire year. This is a story of how greed can get away of what really matters at Christmas.

The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumor Godden
Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she's sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true?

And Then Comes Christmas by Tom Brenner
From icicles clinging to roofs and houses strung with colorful lights to visiting Santa and hunting for the perfect tree, this classic-in-the-making celebrates all of the holiday’s excitement. Evoking both winter’s changes to the world outside and well-loved traditions taking place within, here is a story to encourage readers to curl up with their loved ones and bask in the magic of the Christmas season.

The Last Christmas Tree by Stephen Krensky
Among the grand balsam firs and pines at the Christmas tree lot is a little hunched tree that is missing several branches. Still, no tree is more filled with the spirit of Christmas. As the weeks go by, many others are selected but still the little tree keeps up its hope of finding the perfect family. On Christmas Eve, now the last tree in the lot, a special visitor (Ho, Ho, Ho!) might just give the little tree what it wants most of all.

Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
It's Christmas and the little Mouse is looking forward to opening the presents around the tree. But what about the Big Hungry Bear who lives on top of the hill? The little Mouse's brave and generous spirit reminds us that Christmas is for everyone, not just ourselves. 

To protect his ears from the cold and snow, Mother Rabbit knits Little Rabbit a hat. He loves his hat so much, he and his mother make them for all of his friends.

It's Christmas Eve, and both Melrose and Croc are all alone in the city.  They dream of a wonderful Christmas but feel sad when there is no one to share it with.  It might have been their loneliest holiday ever, if not for a collision with fate.  Could this be the beginning of a magical Christmas, and the start of a cherished friendship?

The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter H Reynolds
Roland can’t wait for Christmas Day, and when the morning finally arrives he races downstairs to see what is waiting for him. What he sees stops him in his tracks. Could that tiny present really be what he had waited all year for? It has to be the smallest gift he had ever seen! So Roland wishes for something bigger . . . and bigger . . . and bigger. 

Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles—and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Ooh la la! This year, Nancy is especially excited about decorating the Christmas tree. She bought a brand-new sparkly tree topper with her own money and has been waiting for Christmas to come. But when things don't turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?

The Mitten Tree by Candace Christensen
One snowy day an elderly woman, Sarah, watches children gathering at the bus stop. While they never seem to notice her, she notices them, especially one little boy who has no mittens. That night, Sarah knits the boy a pair of cozy mittens and places them on the blue spruce tree for him to discover. It soon becomes a game, with the children looking for new mittens on the mysterious tree every morning, and Sarah joyfully knitting new ones each night.