Found one!

So every year when I'm out Christmas shopping (or sometimes Christmas window-shopping), I play a little game with myself, to see where I will see the first religious Christmas decoration or ornament. Part of the reason for my quest is that I collect "Holy Family" tree ornaments.  I have some beautiful ones; some were gifts, but many I have found during my yearly "game."

Well, of course I find an angel or two pretty quickly, and of course angels count. One or two times I have seen a menorah ornament, which seems confusing to me -- but I suspect that in families where one parent is Christian and one parent is Jewish, a menorah tree ornament feels like a fine blending of two customs.  The most unusual religious tree ornament I have ever seen was a lovely glass ornament of the Buddha.  At which I got very tickled and had to go sit down because I was laughing so hard.

This year the winner of my internal contest -- the store where I saw the first Nativity display -- was Pottery Barn Kids.  Here is their fun (and spendy) manger scene.


And here are a few great books to get us us caught up on our Advent calendar:

Day 8:

Here's a pretty little picture book about the life of Mary, Jesus's mother.  In my house, today is a perfect day for a book like this, since December 8 is the day on which Catholics commemorate Mary's immaculate conception.


Day 9:

Today's book is another that is out of print.  Lucky for us that we can access all, all the books through This fabulous website gives book lovers the ability to find books at used book stores all over the English speaking world.  Can I get an amen for buying a beloved and out-of-print book from a nice little New Zealand bookstore with a cat and a generous return policy?!

Din, Dan Don, It's Christmas, by Janina Domanska, is based on a Polish carol. It depicts a procession of birds and people together, as they make their way toward the manger where Jesus has been born. The illustrations evoke stained glass windows, and the simple words evoke an earlier time.


Day 10:

Here's a reminder that every creature is unique and wonderful in ways that cannot be duplicated. No Two Alike, by Keith Baker, is a quietly lovely depiction of a winter landscape. We see that while some things seem similar, really every creature has its unique place in the pattern of life.


Day 11:

The Christmas Magic, by Lauren Thompson, offers a view of Santa Claus as he prepares for Christmas. In her telling of the story, Santa is more removed from the world, and he works quite alone as he readies the reindeer, prepares gifts for every girl and boy in the world, and polishes his sled and its jingle bells.


Day 12:

Moe the Dog in Tropical Paradise was a big hit with all my urchins when they were little. I think the idea of a very sophisticated and world-weary dog, who works in an ice cream factory, just tickled their funny-bones. When you add the fact that he's got a very thoughtful girlfriend and a terrific imagination, you have the makings of a great wintery book.

Moe the Dog and his girlfriend Arlene long for a summery paradise where they can relax and get away from their bitter cold lives at the ice cream factory. While others are enjoying the freebies that come their way,  Moe just wants to go south where it is warm.  How will he and Arlene figure out a way to experience the vacation of their dreams?