Zondervan sent me a box of advance copies of new books to read for review. The first one to catch my eye was 25 Days, 26 Ways to make this Your Best Christmas Ever. This book really reiterated to me what I had already decided this year, that this season was not going to be packed with too much to do each day, but instead December would be a lovely time to enjoy with family. So far, on this 9th day of December, the season has been lovely. My entire Christmas shopping is done and Christmas cards have been sent. We have taken time already to go to the huge light display in Lexington, eat peppermint ice cream, read a story for Advent each day, and enjoy a special Christmas movie each night. Ace Collins, the author, takes each of the 25 days of Christmas and focuses on a seasonal topic. Day 3 was a look at what "Merry" in Merry Christmas and God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen means. I will not give it away here, but you may be surprised at the meaning. At chapter's end, Mr. Collins gives A Shortcut to the Season with an idea on how the reader can make the reading come alive. For example, he suggests figuring up how much it would cost to give to your true love today the 12 gifts of The Twelve Days of Christmas. My oldest boy will love that. My father always said his tree was decorated on Christmas Eve, which I always found strange. Now I know this was typical in the 40s and earlier. Early Christmas shopping did not begin unto World War II. So why do we kill ourselves trying to rush around so now? We need to get back to the joy of the season.I received an Advance Reading Copy from Zondervan to be able to review this book.
25 Days is different from your typical Advent devotional -- in a good way. It is light without being lightweight. The 25 chapters touch on some aspect of our modern holiday and include a `"Shortcut to the Spirit of the Season" action step that is both meaningful and practical. Each days reading is upbeat and refreshing. Mr. Collins encourages his readers to embrace the commercialization of modern Christmas as an opportunity to put Jesus before the world. He points out that because our culture has so thoroughly embraced Christmas "sets the stage for an incredible missionary movement." What a concept! The world is watching how we Christians celebrate "our" holiday! This Advent guide re-frames the frustrations and distractions of the season into springboards to project the joy that only Jesus can bring. By making small adjustments to our focus and activity, we can reclaim the holiday and make our celebration purposeful. 25 Ways and 26 Days has earned a place beside my reading chair this Christmas season. It is an Advent book I can share with my children and use as a springboard for future traditions. These essays gave me a new perspective on the bustle and activities that most often become hindrances to the peace and spiritual renewal I so desperately long for at Christmas. This little book would make a great gift for the person who needs to rediscover (or discover for the first time) the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. Because it is best termed a "semi-devotional", even your "non-church" friends and families will enjoy this book. I can't think of a better way to spread the good news of Christ.
Losing the meaning and spirit of Christmas among the busy-ness of the Christmas season? We all have many competitions for our time and energies at this time of year. As our social calendars fill, sometimes we lose the simple joy, awe, and love which should fill us this time of year. Enter Ace Collins, author of more than sixty books, who brings his own gospel-inspired perspective to the Christmas holiday.Collins informs his readers of the historical basis of many popular holiday traditions while he also uses more contemporary examples of Christmas traditions to refocus our attitudes back to the reason why Christmas should have meaning for us. Packing semi-devotional, thoughtful essays into each of the twenty-six chapters, this short book is sure to provide reflective personal or family reading material for each day from December 1st through Christmas. Yet don't worry if you don't begin on December 1st, since you could easily read a couple of these daily--or simply continue to read into January, following the traditional "Twelve Days of Christmas." Each chapter concludes with a suggestion for a specific way to slow down and make the holiday more meaningful for yourself--and often bless another in the process. I hope to form a few new family holiday traditions this year. I received this complimentary review copy from Zondervan.