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Christmas Blessings: Prayers and Poems to Celebrate the Season

Compiled by June Cotner (Warner Books, October © 2002, hardcover, $15.95)

 
 

1. What do you hope Christmas Blessings will accomplish?

In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing, and commercial world, many people I talked with said they sometimes need reminders of the true meaning of Christmas. I think Christmas Blessings accomplishes this. I hope families will savor the selections in Christmas Blessings year after year so that it becomes an integral part of their celebrations. The book lends itself to parents or grandparents asking children to choose a favorite selection to read. I think passing on faith, inspiration, and traditions to future generations is one the most important legacies we can leave behind. Christmas Blessings is a keepsake that I hope will foster a deeper appreciation for the blessings of the season.

2. Why do we need another Christmas collection and why is yours different?

The focus of Christmas Blessings is on the family. I specifically chose selections that would help nurture family closeness. For example, one selection by Bishop

Edmond Lee Browning asks, "What will your children remember about Christmas . . . Years from now, as adults, they catch a glimpse of something, hear a snatch of song, smell food cooking . . . and today will return to them in a flood of memory."

I was thrilled when Pat Boone said that Christmas Blessings "reminds us, in many beautiful and meaningful ways, what we remember and want to feel again at this most precious season."

In Christmas Blessings, I also acknowledged that sometimes people are going through a difficult time at Christmas. There is one poem by Martha K. Baker who reflected on experiencing her first Christmas alone after a divorce. She said she had no tree, "baked no cookies, sang no carols, lit no candles." But friends understood, invited her over, and said, "You’re the only gift we need. . . . Through these good people, Christ blessed me in my sorrow and gave me back my heart."

3. Tell me a little about the book.

Christmas Blessings includes more than 100 selections—from Charles Dickens to Charles Kuralt—timeless classics and contemporary selections that both the young and old will enjoy. It is divided into chapters devoted to Christmas Joys; Through Children’s Eyes; Christmas Angels; Graces, Prayers, and Toasts; Christmas Memories; Christmas Reflections; and Inspiration. These sections aid those in search of a prayer or poem to fit a particular family gathering, such as Christmas Eve.

4. What are your ideas for how families can use Christmas Blessings?

Selections from Christmas Blessings can be read aloud at family occasions. My family shares many of the graces and prayers at the dinner table and we read the poems while we gather around the fire. Last Christmas, we used the following grace by Sylvia LeFort Masi, which gave us a deeper perspective of the blessings of family after the horrible events of 9/11:

"Dear God,

As we gather on this holy night,

May the blessings of Christmas

Be found in each of our lives

throughout the coming year:

Joy,

in the simple things in life,

Peace,

no matter the situation in which we find ourselves,

Mercy,

for those in need,

and Love,

of family, God, and friends."

Other great ideas that have been shared with me include:

bulletIf you have to make a Christmas toast, memorize a short selection that you can practice and deliver with ease. I love this short one by Barbara Younger, "The best present of all this holiday is the presence of all of you!"
bulletChildren can be included by giving them the privilege of selecting the reading. Most of the selections can be read by children eight and older. There is one piece by six-year-old Kali Stiles, "To Santa, Thank you for the presents. Use our bathroom if you need to." I particularly love the insight in a poem written by 13-year-old Katie Bonacini. Her last three lines are: "We know that each of us is loved and loves. We know that each of us has the ability to become a peacemaker. And in this moment, we pray for a better world." The family will enjoy hearing some of the classics read aloud again too, such as "’Twas the Night Before Christmas."
bulletOn occasions when you can’t be together with your loved ones for Christmas, send a copy of the book with your favorite passages marked.
bulletMake Christmas Blessings a family heirloom—on the page of a selection used, write the date, who was present, and who gave the reading. I hope Christmas Blessings will help create many happy family memories.
bullet 
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