Were They Wise Men or Kings? The Book of Christmas Questions by Joseph J. Walsh - The title and cover of this book caught my eye while browsing at the library. It looked like a quick read suitable for age 10 and up. At the time (this was several years ago) I thought maybe I would read some of it aloud to the kids, but that never happened. However, it was a quick, easy read and answered Christmas season questions in a common-sense way without being simplistic or overly scholarly. The author taught (still teaches?) a course on Christmas to freshmen at Loyola, and I wondered whether his answers regarding the Nativity and its relevance to the Christmas celebrations would be dismissive. After reading his answers, I really don't know whether he is a believer or a skeptic, because he stuck to the facts! (Wouldn't it be cool if the NEWS media did that? But I digress...) His answers were honest and sometimes humourous, acknowledging the unknowns such as when exactly Jesus was born, some of the facts surrounding the historical St Nicholas, and details about the wise men and the star. He doesn't gloss over the fact that the church co-opted pagan feast days and remade them into celebrations of the Nativity of Christ, but is also quite clear that it is the Christian celebration of this holiday that has made it great and inspired most of the charity associated with it. The book is organized into chapters by topic - Santa; The Nativity; Celebration; Traditions; etc - and in each chapter is a series of questions along with the answer, each Q&A taking approximately two pages. So you can read the book cover to cover like I did, or just look up the answer to a question that intrigues you. This may be the book to have on hand when your kids ask what holly and ivy have to do with Christmas, and what the twelve days of Christmas are. Give them a sourcebook along with those famous homeschooler words: "Why don't you look it up?" (see my original post)
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