Since our move, our books have been in disarray. Half of them are in boxes in the garage, awaiting shelves. The other half are shoved almost willy-nilly onto the shelves we do have, awaiting their chums’ arrival so they can be put in order once more.

So it was a blessed relief to open the Christmas box and find all our Christmas books in one place. Now they’re happily living in a basket beside the fireplace where we can look at them or read them at our leisure.

I like them all, but I especially love these three. So much so that if I had to move and could only take a few books, these would be in my box.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

One of my favorite Christmas stories, this book brings a glad smile to my face each and every time I read it. P.J. Lynch’s gorgeous illustrations illuminate this story of hope and transformation.

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck, illustrated by Mark Buehner

Every time I read this book, I get teary or choked up or both. My kids don’t get why, but that’s okay; they like the book even if it does make Mama cry. It’s a beautiful story, and I was thrilled when I learned several years ago that it had been made into a picture book. Lovely, all the way around.

One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham, illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson

I’m not sure this is technically a Christmas book, but we’ve read it every year during Advent since Jack was three. The beautifully written story weaves between a boy lost in an Appalachian blizzard and the whole sweep of the Biblical narrative, from creation to crucifixion. And Richard Jesse Watson’s illustrations are simply stunning (the gorgeous angel above is his).

I also want to recommend as a quick, light, and yet delightful winter read Jan Karon’s Shepherds Abiding, which I read for the first time earlier this month. It was exactly what I needed: a story full of well-meaning, good-hearted, ordinary people seeking to live with faith and hope and love in a hurting world. And the seeking infuses their lives with grace and glory. The characters often didn’t see the grace and glory in their lives, but I did, and it gave me hope, helped me look at my own life through that lens: where’s the grace here? where’s the glory? Seek and ye shall find.