Every year, I seem to get more annoyed with the commercialization of Christmas. And every year, especially as the kids get older, I try to focus more on the reason for the season. One book that has already helped me do that in preparation for this upcoming Christmas season is If He Had Not Come by David Nicholson.
I received this book in mid-October, and the kids and I have already read through it several times.
This book, which is recommended for ages 6 and older, is a powerful story reminding us that Jesus is the reason why we celebrate Christmas. If it had not been for his birth, our world would be very different.
About If He Had Not Come
If He Had Not Come is a classic Christmas story written by Nan F. Weeks and originally published in an anthology, Christ in the Fine Arts, back in 1938. David Nicholson read this story to his two young daughters when they were growing up. In 2014, David Nicholson reintroduced the story in its current version with illustrations by Charles Jaskiewicz.
The book is available in casebound hardcover for $18.95 or in ebook format for $3.99.
What Is the Story About?
The story opens with Bobby getting ready for bed on Christmas Eve. He reads the Bible with his father, and as he’s going to bed, he reflects on John 15:22, and keeps thinking to himself, “If I had not come.”
The next morning, Bobby wakes up to a very different world. There is no Christmas tree downstairs. Everyone is at work, and the people Bobby runs into are harsh and short-tempered. No one has heard of Christmas.
When Bobby meets an old, sick man, he wants to take him to the hospital, but there is no hospital. There is no church, no homeless shelter. . .Where the hospital used to be, there os only a gambling hall. Most shocking of all, the Bible ends with the Old Testament. Throughout this strange new world, Bobby repeatedly sees the message, “If I had not come.”
Bobby wakes on Christmas morning to discover it has all been a dream, and he immediately prays and offers his thanks to Jesus for coming.
Other Important Features of If He Had Not Come
The illustrations do a wonderful job of setting the mood for the story. In the beginning of the story, the illustrations are bright and colorful. When Bobby wakes to a new reality, the colors are muted and everything is covered with a gray haze.
In addition, the book includes a section in the back for families and Sunday school teachers to ask questions and have a discussion about the book. There are 6 questions that ask children to consider what our lives would be like without Jesus as well as to consider why we really celebrate Christmas, among other questions.
There are another four questions that ask students to go deeper. The first question asks, “How do you think life would be different if Jesus had not come to Earth as a baby?”
Finally, there is a section on the Gospel Message and receiving God’s gift of salvation as well as an explanation of the significance of the Christmas tree.
Our Thoughts on If He Had Not Come
The kids and I read this story together multiple times, and it provoked some good discussions. Cuddle Bug (4) said she didn’t like the way the world was when Jesus hadn’t come. She liked it when people were nice to each other, and she’s glad Jesus did come.
PB & J Girl (6) enjoyed the story, especially the illustrations.
Bookworm (10) thought the story was sad when Bobby was dreaming of the way the world would be if He had not come. He thought the book was an excellent reminder about why we celebrate Christmas.
One difficulty about the story was one illustration in particular that showed an angry mom on the street grabbing her young child’s arm and getting ready to spank her. Both Cuddle Bug and PB & J Girl asked about this picture. Cuddle Bug asked every time we read the book, and the picture seemed to bother her. In addition, I had to explain to both girls what a gambling hall is, but that did not bother me. Just be forewarned for young readers, some of the illustrations during the time Bobby sees the world if Jesus had not come might be disturbing.
The book itself is very good, but the questions and other extras at the end of the story just make the book that much richer. If you’re looking for classic stories to add to your Christmas reading repertoire, this is the book for you.
I was one of 100 reviewers. Click on the icon below to read other reviewers’ opinions of the story.