Crossway recently interviewed Starr Meade, the author of the new children's book Keeping Holiday, about literature, her new book, and more. Here's what she had to say:
Who should read Keeping Holiday? Is it really a Christmas story?
The best stories in children’s literature—works by C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Kenneth Grahame—are enjoyable for people of any age, and I would like to think that’s true of Keeping Holiday as well. It’s a Christmas story and more than a Christmas story.
What’s meant by the title, Keeping Holiday, and what’s the basic storyline?
The title is a play on words. “To keep holiday” can mean to celebrate a specific holiday. That’s one meaning; how do we most fully celebrate the Christmas holiday? The other meaning has to do with the story: Dylan goes to the delightful town of Holiday once a year on vacation and would like to just stay there. Since that’s not possible, his parents tell him he’ll need to find a way to “keep Holiday—” to have it with him all year, wherever he is. Early in the story, Dylan discovers that the Holiday he always visits is not the real Holiday; there’s a larger, much more wonderful Holiday behind it. He also learns, however, that only citizens of Holiday can come and go in the real Holiday, and that only the Founder of Holiday can make you a citizen. So the story is Dylan’s visit to the real Holiday on a temporary pass, in search of the Founder and citizenship. Each adventure that he has on his quest and each character he meets shows him more of what the Founder is like, so that, increasingly, his desire for citizenship in Holiday changes into a desire to know the Founder for his own sake.
But Dylan keeps hearing, “You can’t find the Founder; he finds you; he’s not just the Founder; he’s the Finder too.” What does that mean?
Holiday was established many years ago to honor a King who saved the town from the rule of evil, oppressive tyrants; hence, that King is called “the Founder.” Everyone who knows anything at all about the Founder tells Dylan he can’t find him; the Founder will have to find Dylan. Just as, on the first Christmas, people didn’t go get the Son of God from heaven and bring him to earth, so individual people don’t set out to find Christ and his grace; they aren’t even able to do that. Christ in his grace reaches out and saves them. Biblically, all the credit for coming to the earth as Savior and for coming to any individual as Savior belongs to Christ alone.
You’ve said that one purpose of the book is to give readers a fresh way to look at the Incarnation. How does Keeping Holiday accomplish this?
My favorite parts of the Bible are the Old Testament prophets. They paint their word pictures in such extreme shades of dark and light that you come away from them horrified by the bleakness of the human condition and, consequently, wonderfully relieved by the hope and comfort they hold out in their promises of the coming Messiah. The experiences Dylan has—being entombed in a cave, being lost in absolute darkness, wandering across a barren winter landscape—are meant as pictures of humanity’s condition, and each individual’s condition, before the coming of Christ.
What would you consider the best use of Keeping Holiday?
I hope families will read Keeping Holiday together, maybe even as a holiday tradition. It helps draw attention to what Christ has done for his people and how ordinary Christmas decorations remind us of those things. This could enhance a family’s worship and celebration during Advent season. At the same time, Keeping Holiday brings up for discussion many doctrinal aspects of the salvation God provides, and his ways of working in the human heart, providing a springboard for discussion of these kinds of issues on a personal level, between parents and children.
For more information on Keeping Holiday, visit the Crossway website.