"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
December 16, 2015
Books to Help Keep Christmas
by Laurie Williams Sowby

What single words would you choose to describe this special season of the year? Covenant Communications offers a few suggestions in Words of Christmas: Savoring the True Meaning of the Season One Word at a Time (2015, 54 pages in hard cover, $14.99). The 25 words allow the book to be used as a type of advent calendar or to be savored singly as we rejoice and reflect on the birth of our Savior. It’s the perfect time-out from the busyness of the holidays.

Some of those words are ones that resonate with us every day — family, Christ, love, kindness, celebrate — while others like peace, miracles, shepherds, angel, and Magi take on deeper meaning this time of year. Simple graphic designs accompany the single word, while the opposite page offers some reflection on the word in brief, poetic text, along with a short scripture and reference.

No author is credited with the beautifully written thoughts on each word, hinting that this lovely little book was indeed a labor of love. “May we believe in Him,” it pleads on the final page. “In His mission. His Atonement. In His Resurrection. In all He has done for us. And most especially in His invitation to come and follow Him. For in a season of endless parties and get-togethers, His is the only invitation that matters.”

To call It’s All About Christmas nostalgic is an understatement. This is a treasury of vintage illustrations alongside stories, carols, poems, ideas, quotes, and other reminders of the season. Time-honored stories (O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Match Girl,” Leo Tolstoy’s “Papa Panov’s Special Christmas,” among others) mingle with newer ones, including Jerry Borrowman’s “One Christmas Eve,” Michele Ashman Bell’s “Candle in the Window,” and Lyman Hafen’s “On a Cold Winter’s Night.”

Each is just right for reading aloud to the family.

The pages include Clement C. Moore’s 1822 classic, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” curiously uncredited here and titled “Night Before Christmas.” Did-you-knows, recipes, international traditions, trivia, and brief explanations of symbols of the Christmas season are sprinkled throughout the 232 matte-finish pages of this attractive hardcover book (Covenant 2015, $19.99).

Another seasonal book that deserves mention here Charles Dickens’ beloved tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the life-changing visitations of ghosts from Christmases past, present, and future, as told in a 2013 publication by Deseret Book. Artist J. Kirk Richards abridged and illustrated A Christmas Carol in a lovely hardcover book featuring his sepia-toned paintings that grow brighter as the story unfolds and Scrooge’s heart is changed.

Even abridged, it contains substantial verbiage, but broken into the five “staves” of Dickens’ original, it makes a suitable read-aloud over a few evenings. I missed this gem the first time around but am glad to discover it now (48 pages, $24.99, now available at a large discount).

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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