Christmas Stories for Family Celebration
- Thursday, December 11, 2003
"Advent is a time of worship, a time of reflection, a time of focus and a time of family communion," says Arnold Ytreeide, author of a trilogy of short books to celebrate the Christmas season. "Tabitha's Travels," third in the series, was published this year by Servant Publications.
Parents looking for an entertaining yet meaningful way to observe the Christmas season with their children will find Ytreeide's stories to be excellent aids. Tabitha, title character of the new book, is a 10-year-old girl who is a bit of a rebel and always ready for adventure. Unfortunately, her adventures sometimes take her into dangerous situations. As with the earlier titles, "Jotham's Journey" and "Bartholomew's Passage," the story is written to be read aloud in short daily segments.
"In the midst of December's commotion and stress, it's a few moments to stop, catch your breath and renew your strength from the only One who can provide true strength," says the author.
Ytreeide's child characters live in Israel during the time of Jesus' birth. In Jotham's story, the 10-year-old main character ran away from home only to return and discover that something had caused his father, a shepherd, to move their tents. Jotham's search for his family fills the rest of book one in the series. In book two, Bartholomew faces many dangers as he struggles to survive and eagerly anticipates the Messiah's birth.
Now, Tabitha joins the two boys in a Christmas season story that finds her on a family caravan to her father's birthplace. Along the way, she meets Jotham and Bartholomew, watches as Roman soldiers take her father prisoner, spends time with Zechariah and Elizabeth, rescues her father, and helps Mary and Joseph just before the birth of Jesus.
"Jesus was not born at an amusement park or religious retreat," writes Ytreeide. "He was born into a world of sin, darkness and death." While his stories are adventurous and exciting — and have happy endings — they do take place in the real world. Death, greed and cruelty occur.
Ytreeides' young heroes live in a time that brought persecution and fear to their people. Because of the violence and political turmoil, they are forced to grow up fast, and they develop insights and wisdom far beyond their years.
"The point is not to cover up the dark side of life," says the author, "but rather to show how the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ is the light of our lives."
The captivating stories make Christmas devotions easy for parents. Each daily reading is followed by questions and devotional thoughts to guide family discussion on moral issues arising out of the story. It's hard to put them down at the end of each day's reading and discussion.
An introductory section gives information regarding Advent customs and symbols we use during the holy season, including the Advent calendar, the Advent wreath, what the different colors of the candles mean, when to light them, and when Advent begins.
"In our family," the author explains "we set aside 15 minutes each night before the youngest goes to bed. Our Advent wreath has a traditional place on a table next to the living room reading chair. By the light of the Advent candles, I read the last few lines of the previous day's story, then the story and devotion for that day. It's a wonderful way to keep the shopping and traffic and rehearsals and concerts and parties and preparations of December in balance with the reality of God in our lives — past, present and future."
The Ytreeides live in Nampa, Idaho. In addition to writing, the former youth pastor and police officer is founder of Storyteller Productions, a television production company.
© 2003 AgapePress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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