Make It Sparkle!

A nursing home can be a pretty grim place on a holiday, but a one-year-old with smiley eyes who is practicing his walking in the hallways is certainly a game changer.  The hard journey of my mother’s transition to a care facility has never been harder than this first big holiday without her in our home, but when eight Morins landed in the cafeteria on Thanksgiving Day, the room changed for just a minute.  Smiles were given and received.  Next time — I’m bringing cookies for everyone!

As parents (and grandparents) we struggle to capture the energy and love that gleam forth from our celebration of Jesus’ birthday and channel it towards those in need, while at the same time resisting the commercialism and acquisitiveness that feeds on “more” and “me.”

In The Sparkle Box, Jill Hardie is helping us along with a page shared from her own family Christmas traditions seen through the eyes of young Sam.  In the midst of the excitement of gifts, parties, and decorations, Sam has spotted something new:  a sparkly box that sits in a prominent position on the mantel.  Is it for him?  What’s inside?

The suspense builds page after page, for even with all the drama and fun of the season, Sam’s thoughts keep being pulled back – and back again – to The Sparkle Box:

“Daddy, did you and Mom fill up the Sparkle Box yet?”
“Well, we added something to it tonight, but it’s still not ready to be opened.”

Illustrator Christine Kornacki portrays Sam’s world of Christmas festivities with realistic and detailed paintings that, at times, could pass for photographs.  She has placed Sam in a multicultural context with friends in several shades of brown, and has incorporated vivid contrasts, homey scenes, frosted windowpanes, and an adorable stuffed puppy in red pajamas.

The challenge that resonates from the heart of The Sparkle Box comes from the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:14:

“You are the light of the world . . .”

The narrative also brought to mind Paul’s words in Philippians 2:13 in which he challenges believers to shine like lights in a dark world.    Jesus said that whatever we do for those who are overlooked or ignored is really a gift to Him.  It brings joy to His heart.  When we bring an awareness of those in need into our own family’s remembrance of Jesus’ birthday — whether it’s a visit to a nursing home, a blanket for a homeless person, or a contribution toward the education of children in foreign lands —  we change our celebration by making it sparkle with the love of God.

The Sparkle Box comes complete with a sparkly box, and the author’s website provides further support and encouragement to get families started on the tradition of giving a gift to Jesus on His birthday.

P.S.  After drafting this review, I had the opportunity to share The Sparkle Box with the children of my Sunday School.  (The adults were there, too, but we didn’t mind.)  After our story time, I showed them our sparkle box and the red and green slips of paper for writing their gifts to Jesus.  We are looking forward to opening the box on the last Sunday of Advent and celebrating all the gifts our church family has presented to Jesus in honor of His birth!

This book was provided by Worthy Publishing in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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17 thoughts on “Make It Sparkle!”

  1. What a great idea. I’m always looking for ways to spread the real meaning of Christmas in the midst of all the commercialism that exists today and this is perfect. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michele, I enjoyed your review and the idea of using Christmas as an opportunity to love Jesus by serving those who are normally overlooked.


  3. Thanks for sharing about The Sparkle Box at The Loft today, Michele. I love anything that emphasizes shining our lights into dark places. Gift of service for Him for those who are overlooked must bring a special twinkle to the Father’s eye!


  4. This looks like fun! We buy a new Christmas book every year, even though my kids aren’t littles any more, we still LOVE Christmas books. I am sorry that you are traveling this journey of transition with your mom. I remember when my mom and her siblings had to make that choice for my grandmother. It was literally the hardest decision they ever had to make after 8 years of taking care of her together. She had 5 living children with oodles of grandkids nearby when the decision was made to move her and we, too, descended upon the facility in a way that generated attention. She had a visitor every single day and usually multiple visitors and many of the residents looked forward to our visits, too. It taught my children a lot about humility and mercy.
    Praying your holiday is filled with His mercy through this transition.


    1. Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your mum’s story with me. I do keep hearing from others that this decision is a rough one, and that I shouldn’t be surprised by my ambivalence. It sounds as if your family did it up just right! Blessings to you and your family!


  5. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful verse and the Sparkly box. I am sure your Sunday School class enjoyed a new way of looking at Christmas. I have been focused a lot recently on the light – not darkness – of our soul. We are only a light in the world because of the Light dwelling in our hearts. You are gifted and I appreciate your words of encouragement.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This book sounds wonderful, and I love that you shared it with you Sunday School class (young and old!) I look forward to reading it myself. Thanks so much for linking up at my collection of Christmas reads for kids at!


  7. My daughter and I just read this book last night. She will add her gifts to Jesus today and I pray that she’ll continue to give and serve throughout the Christmas season. This book should be added to everyone’s Christmas collection. It’s awesome!


  8. My grandmother is in her 90’s and this is her first Christmas in a home. I was so dismayed to find that they don’t allow any children under the age of (I think it was) 16 in for the entire duration of cold/ flu season. We used to go visit every couple of week and even took a cooking class with her. I found that they were so comfortable talking to so many of the residents; many of whom are retired nuns. I find that most of the faces of the residents light up when I bring my boys in and I am so sad to know that we can’t do that at Christmas. Though I understand their policy (they had a bad case of the flu fly through that resulted in them loosing a shockingly large number of residents a few years back). Rest assured we’ll be back at the first opportunity and I’ll be visiting alone with plenty of pictures in hand for now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel your pain. In my mum’s facility they’ve tightened security around meal time visits (which I used to do because then I could meet her “friends”) and evening visits. Like you, I see their logic, but . . . 😦


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