Ellen Gable Hrkach reviews Christmas Joy with Grandma, a new read-aloud by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle.
Christmas Joy with Grandma is a lovely new children’s Christmas book by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.
The cast of characters in this book includes Grandma, 7-year-old Joseph; his sister, 5-year-old Anne-Marie; and Grandma’s kitty, Marmalade. The children have just moved into the house next to their grandmother and are delighted as they make their way from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Before Thanksgiving, Joseph and Anne-Marie have seen Christmas decorations in the stores and other families’ houses and ask Grandma why she doesn’t have her decorations up. Grandma says,
“It’s just that I don’t like to rush things. That’s why I have not started decorating for Christmas. ... I want to wait patiently for Baby Jesus, you know, like Mary and St. Joseph did.”
Her way of decorating includes using a Nativity scene (but leaving the Baby Jesus figurine out until Christmas Day) and lighting an Advent wreath. A few weeks into Advent, Grandma and the kids make Advent cookies, and Grandma gradually begins decorating her home until they’re closer to Christmas.
On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Grandma reads the Christmas story from the Bible to her grandchildren. Christmas morning finally arrives, and Grandma, Joseph, Anne-Marie, and their parents exchange presents at the children’s house next door. Once all the gifts are opened, Grandma tells her grandchildren that it’s time to do something important. She takes them back to her house and brings out the Baby Jesus figure. Joseph and Anne-Marie put the Baby Jesus into the Nativity scene.
All in all, as a grandmother (my grandchildren call me Grammy), I thought this was a wonderful book. It’s the author’s first venture into writing fiction. It’s written at an appropriate level for children ages four and up.
I liked the fact that the author talks about not rushing and waiting patiently for Baby Jesus. Our society is one where many (if not most) people tend to put up Christmas decorations even before Advent begins. It’s refreshing to read how Grandma doesn’t just do things because other people do them but because “Grandma made her own decisions based on what she believed was best.”
One thing that was missing for me was the grandfather (who in the story is deceased). I recognize that this often happens for many grandmothers (and the book is titled Christmas Joy With Grandma), so I understand why the author chose to focus on the grandmother. All in all, though, I would highly recommend this book to grandparents who enjoy reading to their grandchildren, especially around the Christmas season.
Ask for Christmas Joy with Grandma at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from ShopMercy.com.
Copyright 2022 Ellen Gable Hrkach
About the Author
Ellen and her husband, James, have been certified NFP teachers since 1984. She’s also an award-winning, bestselling author of twelve books, an editor, a publisher, and a self-publishing book coach. Her newest novel is Where Angels Pass. The mother of five adult sons and grandmother of two precious grandchildren, Ellen lives in Pakenham, Ontario with her husband. Contact her at Full Quiver Publishing.