Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Fiction: The Candy Cane

As a child, I remember loving candy canes.  I have this random childhood memory of driving home in the snow after a family holiday gathering while thoroughly enjoying a candy cane.   I used to love to steal them off the Christmas tree!   These books teach the story and meaning behind this unique candy.  The stories vary in approach and details, but the meaning is the same.  The candy cane can be used as an object lesson to teach about the meaning of Christmas and God’s love for us. 

J is for Jesus (ages 2-6) by Crystal Bowman  
On a snowy day, families gather in a candy store to sample a new treat.  The candy maker is eager to share this holiday confection with everyone.  It is a red and white peppermint stick shaped like a J to remind people the reason for Christmas:  Jesus’, God’s son, birth.  It is also shaped like a staff to represent the shepherds who were the first to hear the Good News.  The red color is for the blood Jesus shed for sinners while the white is for how believers are made holy and clean from His sacrifice.  This board book is written in rhyming couplets.  J is for Jesus is illustrated with bright, amiable pictures ideal for toddlers to early elementary school children.

The Legend of the Candy Cane (ages 5-9) by Lori Walburg 
When a stranger rides into town, he spots a lonely storefront he decides to use.  Quietly, he works long hours getting the building ready.  The townspeople hope for different things.  The mayor hopes the stranger is a doctor who can heal illness.  The young wives hope he is a tailor who can make them fine-looking dresses while the farmers hope he is a trader who they can exchange their grain for goods with.  The children have their own wishes for this new store.  One day, Lucy, a young girl, offers to help the man unpack.  She is thrilled to find that he has a multitude of confections to organize and display.  When she comes across the candy canes, the man shares their unique story.  Together, Lucy and the candy store owner travel to all the houses in town.  At each one, they leave a small gift and an invitation to the grand opening of the store.  All the townspeople come.  The mayor feels better than he has in days.  The women come dressed in gorgeous smiles.  The farmers are eager to trade their grain for candy.  Every ones hears the story of the candy cane:  “the miracle of Christ’s birth. The misery of His death. And the mercy of His love.”   The Legend of the Candy Cane is an inspirational holiday story. 

The Candymaker’s Gift (ages 6-11) by David and Helen Haidle  
A generous and gregarious candy maker wants to help the children he loves see God’s gift of Christmas.  He prayfully and thoughtfully chooses ingredients—peppermint like the wise men’s spice gifts to Jesus, white to represent the holiness of God, hard as a rock because He is the Solid Rock in times of trouble, and shaped as a “J” for the name of the savior.  When candymaker’s beloved granddaughter comes into the shop, she tells him it reminds her of “Jesus, our Good Shepherd.  A good shepherd doesn’t run away from danger, and he will do anything to save his sheep.”  Together they decide to add red stripes to remind them of Jesus’ suffering and death.  They are thankful for their inspiration as they formed a new candy that would point people to Jesus. 

Note:  At the back of The Candymaker’s Gift, there are ideas for a candy cane party, decorating with a candy cane theme, and Bible verses to accompany each part of the candy’s design. 

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