December 10, 2018

Advent 2018

"Tell Me the Story Most Precious"


Even in my sixth decade of life, I still love Little Golden Books and the way their stories are told in a sweet, childlike way.  I have amassed a huge collection of Little Goldens and especially am drawn to those illustrated by a talented artist named Eloise Wilkin.


Even if you don't recognize her name, you probably know her books--Little Golden ones like Baby Dear, We Help Daddy, We Help Mommy, and Baby Listens.  In a word, her illustrations are precious.


Not too long ago I was organizing my Wilkin collection and came across The Christmas Story as told by Jane Werner with Wilkin's pictures.  The book was published in 1952 but the story is timeless, of course.  Chances are, this version makes little children anticipate each page with great expectations, wondering what will happen next.


"This is Mary, a girl of Galilee," Werner writes under a picture of a beautiful young girl sitting on a bench.  "Mary married a good man from Nazareth.  His name was Joseph, and he was a carpenter by trade.  When Joseph had to go from Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judea, to pay his taxes in his father's town, Mary went with him.  It was a long, weary journey for her."


Suddenly, Mary gave birth to a son and wrapped him in "swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger."  (Can't you envision wide-eyed children gazing at every detail of each illustration and running their tiny fingers along the drawings of Mary holding the baby and Joseph kneeling before her on the hay?)  The angels appeared and told the shepherds about "a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."


The children may ask questions, of course, maybe ones like this:  "Why didn't Mary and Joseph go to the hospital?" or "Why is Mary riding on a donkey?  Why didn't she drive the car?"


"When the three wise men saw the star in the east they rejoiced and were glad," Werner continues.  "They saw the young child with Mary and bowed down and worshipped him.  They opened their treasures and laid before him gifts:  gold and frankincense and myrrh."


On the final page is a typical Wilkin illustration--a toddler with a cherubic face holding a lamb.  "The grace of God was upon him."  The toddler is Jesus and someone with whom a small child can relate.


"He's just like me!"  Yes, he is--and what a glorious expectation that is for us all.

-- Polly Powers Stramm


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