ST. LOUIS—Gretchen Claybrook left a legacy of love and giving. C. David Claybrook, retired pastor of several churches in the St. Louis metropolitan area including Riverview Gardens Baptist Church, is now sharing that legacy with others.
Gretchen’s legacy is a Christmas children’s book, Let’s Decorate the Christmas Tree. She wrote and illustrated the book in the spring of 2010 before her death from pancreatic cancer on Jan. 2, 2011. Decorate the Christmas Tree is designed with a pop-up tree and includes repositionable stickers.
“Gretchen loved giving,” Claybrook said, “and she always had a real knack for teaching children. She loved Christmas because it was an expression of her giving. She would plan her gifts.”
Sharon Hancock, kindergarten teacher at North County Christian School and a member of First Baptist Church, Ferguson, believes the interactive design of the book is a gift to children and parents.
“This is not just another storybook,” she said. “It gives children an opportunity to be hands-on in their learning. I remember when my children celebrated advent in our home, they liked the nights we dressed up in costume. This book would make a great devotion during the holiday.”
Claybrook said Gretchen wrote the book as a guide for parents to teach their children the truth about Christmas.
“Gretchen taught art for years,” he said, “and she knew how to be positive with children. She wanted to use the Christmas tree. All creation is to give glory to God.”
Claybrook also said that Gretchen had two goals for the message in Decorate the Christmas Tree.
“One,” he said, “was to celebrate Christ. She believed that many adults and children don’t understand the reason for Christmas. The second reason was to highlight that Christmas really should be about giving because God gave His Son to us.”
“Children need to learn to give in Jesus’ name,” she said. “This book has resources in the back to help children give. They can learn to think of others and to take the focus off of ‘ME.’”
Hancock also plans to use the book in her class.
“The best thing I like about the book,” she said, “is that it goes along with my Christmas theme. I teach the poem by Christina Rossetti, ‘What can I give him, Poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a wise man, I would do my part; Yet what can I give him—Give my heart.’ This book answers that question and the children are able to put heart stickers on the tree.”
Besides giving opportunities, the plan of salvation is outlined in the back of the book.
“Gretchen put the gospel in the book to help children and adults know how to give their hearts to Jesus. Her prayer was that people would come to know Jesus through her book.”
For more information on Decorate the Christmas Tree, go to www.truth4children.com. It is available for sale on www.amazon.com. For more information about using the book as a fundraiser or as an outreach tool, call David Claybrook at (314) 741-9283.
VICKI STAMPS/contributing writer