The words running through his brain cause him to have a dream, which he of course does not realize is a dream. In the dream, he is woken up by a loud voice and heads downstairs, focused on the presents he is sure are coming. Unfortunately, he is greeted by an undecorated house devoid of those precious presents. This, however, is not the extent of his discoveries. As he tries to find answers to what is going on, he finds out that many places are missing or changed in his town. Where once stood the church he attended, he finds an empty lot with these words posted:
He discovers the absence of the hospital, children's home, and shelter. He in confronted with hostility, brusqueness, and impatience. He is confused when he realizes that people have no clue what Christmas even is! Along the way his focus has shifted from himself and his presents, to helping others. He discovers the Children's Home is gone when he tries to stop by to watch them open their gifts. He discovers both the hospital and shelter are gone as he tries to help an old man. Everywhere he goes he is confronted with the words, "If I had not come."
In his dream, he makes his way home to get his parents to help. While there, he picks up the Bible only to discover the entire New Testament is empty. He realizes all the things that would be missing in our world if Jesus had not come as he is awakened by the sound of church bells.
Thus, he starts his Christmas morning focused an Jesus. Before going down to breakfast he prays, showing gratitude to Jesus for coming to earth and promising to be the kind of boy he knows Jesus wants him to be.
In the back of the book, you will find several pages of ways to extend the story. There are interactive topics for either families or Sunday School teachers to discuss after reading the book. The "Going Deeper" section by Josh Mulvihill lists 4 questions for further study on the importance of Jesus coming to earth. The ABC's of the Gospel message is shared. The final section gives thoughts on how the Christmas tree reminds us of Jesus.
We have read this book a couple of times now before bedtime. The first time we read it I didn't really get into reading any questions. The second time we discussed the interactive topics questions, thinking about how things would be different in our own lives if Jesus had not come. I asked what they think of when they first wake up on Christmas morning and was pleased to hear Amelia mention she thinks about it being Jesus' birthday. I confessed to the girls that my focus was always on the presents under the tree. Yes, church would come later, but I admit Christmas morning was all about which presents were whose and whether I got what a wanted. I told them, that I was never really taught that we should be focusing on Jesus and that I was pleased that they know the true meaning of the holiday.
I plan on discussing the Going Deeper section with them as a part of our school time in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Though we don't have a tree, we do talk about the different symbols and how they represent Jesus. I think this year we will be focusing on that a bit more, maybe be making Christmas present for Jesus as I did in the past with my older children.
I have to say, I was thrilled to catch Tabitha reading the book by herself. I had to capture a picture of the older girls looking at it together.