It is hard to believe that the Christmas season will soon be here. This is such a special time of year and definitely one of my favorites. The kids and I sat down and talked about all the things we love about it: the decorations, the music, the food, spending time with family, and, of course, the presents. But the most important thing--the reason we even celebrate the holiday--and the first point that the kiddos mentioned that they love is celebrating the birth of Jesus. God sent his Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. It is because of His birth that we enjoy all those other special things. While reviewing the book If He Had Not Come we also learned about what other things we enjoy because of His birth, or rather, how life would be different if He had not come.
The book was originally published in 1938 by Nan F. Weeks. Not much else is known about her except that she was a teacher and children's author. David Nicholson, also a teacher, first hard the story in church. The message impacted him so much that he mad it a tradition to read it to his own family each and every Christmas. Now, he's reintroducing this beloved story to a new generation with hopes of encouraging others to take its thought-provoking message to heart.
If He Had Not Come begins on Christmas Eve and contains all the magic of it. Before heading to bed in anticipation of the coming day, Bobby and his father sat down for their daily Bible reading. Bobby eventually fell asleep, thinking about some of the words they read spoken by Jesus, "If I had not come."
If He had not come. What sad, life-changing words.
How would life be if He, Jesus, had not come? Throughout the story, Bobby discovers the answer to that. Instead of waking to the joy of presents under the tree, he found an undecorated house. Instead of the town being quiet and at home celebrating God's Gift with their families, he found the stores and businesses full of rude, gruff people. Instead of the church, hospital, and children's home he found empty lots. Over and over again, he saw the words "If I had not come." If Jesus had not come, Bobby learned that the world would be a coldhearted, dark place.
He was thrilled when he awoke from his dream and thanked God that He did come.
The story has a powerful message and is a great starting place for a discussion with your kids about the true meaning of Christmas. Not only does this large hardback book have classic illustrations throughout the entire book, it's also got pages of extras in the back for further study. After I read the story to the kids, we read through the questions and discussed them together. What do you think . . . Why did . . . Put yourself . . . Imagine . . . The questions are not simple ones with definite answers, but rather open-ended ones where you really have to think. I love questions like these because they give me a glimpse of what's going on in those precious minds of my little ones.
There are also many questions with definitive answers that can be found by looking up the appropriate Bible references. The entire salvation message is written in the book, as well. My kids enjoyed the activity. As they drew Christmas trees, I explained why it's symbolic. They learned why we use a tree, what the star represents, what the lights remind us of, and why we give presents.
My kids and I enjoyed If He Had Not Come ($18.95) and will add it to our Christmas reading every year. Not only is it a great reminder of why we celebrate the day, but the suggested activities (best for ages 6+) at the end really make it a learning experience.
If you'd like to see what other families thought of this book, you can read more reviews on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.