8 Dec 2008

To Bethlehem, to Bethlehem!

There are exactly two ways of becoming wise. One way is to travel out into the world and to see as much as possible of God's creation. The other is to put down roots in one spot and study everything that happens there in as much detail as you can. The problem is that it's totally impossible to do both at the same time.

Jostein Gaarder The Christmas Mystery

My advent read this year is Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder's The Christmas Mystery. This enchanting tale of children in two different times is the perfect advent read for children and adults. It's quirky, magical and delightfully written. It even has 24 short chapters - one for each day of advent!

I can't tell you the whole story - I'm only up to the 8th of December, but here's the story so far...

It was dusk. Joachim and his father had gone into town to buy an advent calendar. It was their last chance, for tomorrow would be the first of December. In the corner of a dusty old bookstore, Joachim discovers a an old and dusty advent calendar. He almost feels sorry for it. On the front he reads these words: MAGIC ADVENT CALENDAR. Of course, Joachim has to have it!

When he opens the first door on 1st December, a small piece of paper falls out. On it is the beginning of a story about a little girl named Elisabet. One December many years ago, Elisabet follows a white-lamb-toy-come-to-life straight out of a department store in Joachim's town and on to an amazing journey. She travels back through time and down through Europe to Bethlehem to be present - along with the Wise Men and the shepherds - at the birth of Jesus.

Each of the twenty-four windows in the calendar hides another chapter in Elisabet's story. Who was this Elisabet and where is she now? Is she a real girl? All these questions run through Joachim's mind, and through mine as well. I find it almost impossible not to jump ahead and read 'just one more chapter'!

Next year I'll read it to Jemimah.

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