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Christmas Review by Kathy Gelzer

By Angie Mosteller
Celebrating Holidays Publishing Inc.
1473 Crystal Court
San Marcos, CA 92078

Subtitled Celebrating the Christian History of American Symbols, Songs, and Stories, this 472-page paperback book is a treasure trove of information. You can tell that Angie Mosteller is passionate about her subject. Geared to families in general rather than a certain age group, the book explores the history of 20 symbols, 20 songs, and 20 stories associated with Christmas.

The chapter titles all cleverly start with the letter s. "Salutation" is the introduction or letter from the author. "Source" discusses the origin and history of Christmas: Biblical prophesies, the year and date of Christ's birth, and Christmas in America. Here the author dispels the theory that Christmas has its origins in a pagan celebration.

I particularly like the Bible passages cited or included in the chapter on symbols, defined as "people and things most often depicted in images of Christmas." To give you an idea, some of the symbols covered are angels, bells, doves, Jesus, light, mistletoe, poinsettias, Santa Claus, wise men, and wreaths.

The songs chapter includes the music (with traditional words) and background information on the authors of both the words and music. Some of the songs here are "Away in a Manger," "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," "O Holy Night," and "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks." These would make wonderful advent devotions, singing a carol as a family and reading its background.

Next is the chapter of stories. Approximate reading times for each is an extra thoughtful touch. Ranging from 2 to 30 minutes, the stories include an excerpt from "A Christmas Carol," "One Solitary Life," "The Christmas Cuckoo," and "The Gift of the Magi," to name a few. Again, the author's attention to detail is amazing; the dates of the author are listed (particularly helpful for dovetailing with your history studies), and background information on the author and story is included.

The chapter called "Suggestions" is an annotated list of books for further reading. And finally, "Summary" concludes with the Gospel story and the Sinner's Prayer. What would I add or change? I wish Angie Mosteller had included a plan for how to read through this book during the Advent season.

Christmas is an astounding work of research and writing. Extremely well written, it would be a great addition to anyone's Christmas book collection. If you are looking for a special pre-Christmas gift for your own or another family, this is it.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2010