It's important to preface that her first book, 1000 Gifts, changed my life. That beautiful treatise on the beauty of thanksgiving and all that it does to bring you into God's presence was a deeply felt message at a difficult time in my life. The process of counting God's little gifts brought me out of a whirlwind of depression, hurt feelings, disappointment, and into His presence. Needless to say, I had very high expectations for this new book because of this.
The Greatest Gift did not disappoint. It is an invitation to slow down and reflect on the real meaning of the Christmas season: God's sacrificial gift to us, Himself as the greatest gift. I love the size and format of the daily readings, the suggested activities, and the reflection questions. This is a Jesse tree devotional for my inner poet. Ann's gift is in her ability to draw you into her words that also cause you to look up to heaven in awe of God and what He has done.
The Greatest Gift is an Advent calendar and devotional as one gift. 25 days of Advent each have their own reading, with passages from the Old and New Testament. Each has an ornament of cut white paper, elegantly designed as an illustration. But that's not all; you can download these beautiful designs and create your own "Jesse Tree" representing the House of Jesse, who was King David's father and ancestor of Jesus. Jesse's family tree, the mighty House of David was cut down over time but revitalized when Jesus was born as the Messiah. You make a Jesse Tree (on paper, felt or a real tree) and hang each ornament in its time.
The idea is that over 25 days of devotional reading, you and your family will come into the Christmas season fully steeped in the meaning of Christmas and have a beautiful Christmas decoration to remind you of the journey.
This is a lovely idea for families. It would even work for a prayer group. The ornaments are beautifully designed, yet elegantly simple in their white layers of cut paper, that it would be a joy to re-create them. The ornaments are not just Christmas-themed; the one of Noah's Ark is particularly lovely and many of the designs would make delightful cards to send to friends. So this book is not just useful for Christmas. If you enjoy crafts with paper or scrapbooking, there is a lot here you could adapt for other uses.
If your family is looking for something to make a more meaningful Christmas and retain the Christmas message amid all the jollity and distractions of the season, I can hardly think of a better idea. As one review said, she poetically and powerfully calls our hearts to the real meaning of Christmas.