When I was younger, I used to insist that my family wait till early December, after my birthday, to begin celebrating Christmas. Now that I have kids of my own however, I say, bring it on! In fact, can we bump Thanksgiving up to the end of October, skip Halloween, and spend two months ushering in Christmas?
The Bishop’s Dream, which I received as a CD, was my introduction to this audio collection. Jim Hodges is a delight to listen to! He does such a lovely job of interpreting the endearing tales produced by the Familyman. The Bishop’s Dream is a fun tale about Saint Nicholaus, before he became Santa—as a missionary, loving poor people. In a feverish fit, “the bishop” has a dream, in which he sees Christmas in the future, centered around a man called Santa. You can imagine his consternation when he realizes that Christmas has become focused on him and not on Jesus. The tale ends with a sweet prayer, that all people will remember that Christmas is about Christ.
In addition to the Bishop’s Dream, I received all 8 tales of the Christmas Treasury as a digital download. They downloaded easily, and after fighting a bit to sync my new computer with my phone, I was able to get the tracks into my iTunes so I could listen in the car.
Gladys Remembers Christmas is a sweet tale, one that had me in tears. In it, a 58 year old woman is missing her late mother, and mourning the lack of affection in her relationship with her father. When Glady goes looking for something in the attic that houses all the old family heirlooms—and heaps of Christmas decorations she had forgotten—her mother appears to chat with her. Gladys is aware that this a vision of some sort, and her tender conversation with her mother both reminded me to love and appreciate my own parents, and also directed my attention back to Jesus, who of course loves us even more than our mommies do.
The Stranger is another one that resonated with me—this tale reminded me of a family story that my parents used to tell. Once, my parents gave a man a ride; he left behind an item in the car, and they drove back to return the item—only to find the house they had dropped him at wasn’t there. At that time, the Bible fell open to the verse about entertaining angels unaware. In the Stranger, a family hosts a vagabond who leaves behind a beautifully carved wooden Mary, Joseph and Jesus and manages to save Christmas—and when he leaves, he vanishes without a trace.
It’s Called Christmas is sort of an odd tale, set in a future sort of dystopia, in which Christmas—and all references to Christmas—have been erased from history (along with anything else religious, polarizing or possibly offensive). In this story, a young boy named learns the word Christmas from an old man at the mall, and begins investigating its history. Nook eventually ends up gathering with the old man and a few other people at an underground home church, with humorous likenesses between an ever-present AI named Maxine (who answers questions through wrist screens) and Siri. It ends with a challenge to keep calling Christmas Christmas, and to keep God and Jesus at the center of the season. I do feel that the very ending will require some conversation; rather than corrected the checkout clerk who wishes us Happy Holidays, I hope we are filled with Christ and able to respond with grace.
My kiddos are a bit too young to focus for the full length of these audios quite yet. They range from about 13 minutes to 30 minutes in length; I intend to continue to play them on repeat in the car over Christmastime. I will probably pick one to play on repeat until Bubba “gets” the story. I think he will really like the Bishop’s Dream and the Stranger, especially. Most of these stories appeal to both children and adult—they really are a family audio collection.
If you’d like to read more reviews about the Familyman’s Christmas Treasury Audio Collection, check out other reviews by the Homeschool Review Crew.