A nursing home can be a pretty grim place on a holiday, but a one-year-old with smiley eyes who is practicing his walking in the hallways is certainly a game changer. The hard journey of my mother’s transition to a care facility has never been harder than this first big holiday without her in our home, but when eight Morins landed in the cafeteria on Thanksgiving Day, the room changed for just a minute. Smiles were given and received. Next time — I’m bringing cookies for everyone!
As parents (and grandparents) we struggle to capture the energy and love that gleam forth from our celebration of Jesus’ birthday and channel it towards those in need, while at the same time resisting the commercialism and acquisitiveness that feeds on “more” and “me.”
In The Sparkle Box, Jill Hardie is helping us along with a page shared from her own family Christmas traditions seen through the eyes of young Sam. In the midst of the excitement of gifts, parties, and decorations, Sam has spotted something new: a sparkly box that sits in a prominent position on the mantel. Is it for him? What’s inside?
The suspense builds page after page, for even with all the drama and fun of the season, Sam’s thoughts keep being pulled back – and back again – to The Sparkle Box:
“Daddy, did you and Mom fill up the Sparkle Box yet?”
“Well, we added something to it tonight, but it’s still not ready to be opened.”
Illustrator Christine Kornacki portrays Sam’s world of Christmas festivities with realistic and detailed paintings that, at times, could pass for photographs. She has placed Sam in a multicultural context with friends in several shades of brown, and has incorporated vivid contrasts, homey scenes, frosted windowpanes, and an adorable stuffed puppy in red pajamas.
The challenge that resonates from the heart of The Sparkle Box comes from the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:14:
“You are the light of the world . . .”
The narrative also brought to mind Paul’s words in Philippians 2:13 in which he challenges believers to shine like lights in a dark world. Jesus said that whatever we do for those who are overlooked or ignored is really a gift to Him. It brings joy to His heart. When we bring an awareness of those in need into our own family’s remembrance of Jesus’ birthday — whether it’s a visit to a nursing home, a blanket for a homeless person, or a contribution toward the education of children in foreign lands — we change our celebration by making it sparkle with the love of God.
The Sparkle Box comes complete with a sparkly box, and the author’s website provides further support and encouragement to get families started on the tradition of giving a gift to Jesus on His birthday.
P.S. After drafting this review, I had the opportunity to share The Sparkle Box with the children of my Sunday School. (The adults were there, too, but we didn’t mind.) After our story time, I showed them our sparkle box and the red and green slips of paper for writing their gifts to Jesus. We are looking forward to opening the box on the last Sunday of Advent and celebrating all the gifts our church family has presented to Jesus in honor of His birth!
This book was provided by Worthy Publishing in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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