It started ten years ago, with the first Christmas after I got married — the question of traditions. I grew up in Michigan, where Christmas equaled cutting down our own tree the day after Thanksgiving, baking and decorating cut-out cookies, singing carols in the blustery snow, and a candlelit Christmas Eve service ending with “Silent Night.” My husband grew up in South Africa, where December is the hottest month of the year, and Christmas is spent poolside, with meat on the braai, and Coke and Christmas pudding to follow.
Merging our two cultures and backgrounds and forming new traditions has proved a challenge that still changes with every year, especially as we’ve added growing children to the mix. I started to question which traditions actually enhanced the meaning of Christmas, and which were done just because that’s what we always did growing up. Then my mom passed away, and the traditions that shaped so much of my own childhood hurt too much now that she was gone. I found myself trudging through the motions of rolling out Christmas cookie dough simply for the sake of my kids, and nothing more.
For years, I’ve longed to be more intentional about elevating Christ above the constant barrage of decorations and toys that line the retail windows and shelves every December.
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift is a real treasure. Since I’m familiar with the gift of Ann’s writing, I expected this book to be a rich resource to use with my three kids — what I didn’t expect was how much it would challenge and bless me personally, particularly with how every account in the Bible points to Jesus.
With a winsome and engaging tone, Ann Voskamp weaves Christ into every story shared. Reading this book made me feel like I was sitting in Ann’s home, watching her sit with her own children gathered about her, eyes sparkling as she told them the hope-infused story of Jesus with each turn of the page. As Ann writes in the final entry, “Our whole, grand, epic story, right from the beginning, has been about Him.”
Each reading includes a Scripture passage at the beginning, and thoughts to discuss and a family activity suggestion at the end of the daily entry. Not only does Ann challenge the reader to see Jesus in every aspect of our redemption story, she also encourages us to “Use the life you’ve been given to give others life.”” Her heart to give and serve is so evident in the way she entreats her readers to be a blessing to others.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this gem, and am so looking forward to December when I can start this new family tradition and read it day by day with my kids.
Thank you, Ann, for giving the gift of this book as a way to help families keep Jesus as the true reason for the season.
Welcome to Ungrind!
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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-- Darlene Schacht, author of Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages and co-author of Reshaping it All: Motivation for Spiritual and Physical Fitness
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
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