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A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit
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82 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The sweetest book I've read in years. Regardless of political party, it will melt your heart. No politics here just great memories of a simplier time. I laughed and I cried and you will too.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit by Mike Huckabee is a pretty gentle reminder that the spirit of Christmas isn't at Macy's, or Belk's, or under the tree on Christmas morning.

Mike Huckabee shares twelve candid and heartwarming stories from his life. The story of an early Christmas in his married life when nothing about the future was assured is one of the most touching and sincere lessons in the book. What comes shining through is that while Huckabee seems self assured and on point as a politician and political spokesman, his personal life has been one of ups and downs......not unlike the rest of us.

A Simple Christmas is a gift you should give yourself and those you love.

I highly recommend.

Peace and Merry Christmas
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for an inspirational book for the holidays, this is it. I was very surprised at the stories Mike Huckabee shares with the reader. I didn't realize all the hardships he and his family have experienced and the problems he has overcome. I now understand who this talented man really is. Whether you agree with his political views or not, this is a must read.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
The Power of Simplicity

Whether you are a believer or not, Christmas is a time of family gathering, personal reflection of the year expiring and of course, the year to come. Most importantly, it is an affirmation and celebration of what C.S. Lewis termed "the Grand Miracle".

As is usual, the bookstores are full of re-issues of Christmas classics and new books too. They come in all varieties. There are inspiring stories that lift the spirit and others that display the many shades of faith. Each year, I try to find at least one Christmas book that offers something unique.

Such is the case with A Simple Christmas by Mike Huckabee, a former Governor of Arkansas, a Baptist minister and now host of the Huckabee program on Fox. He shares 12 stories that celebrate the true Christmas spirit--stories than can engage all audiences--not just Christians.

By turns large and small, the former Governor shows us the importance and power of simplicity for families during the Christmas season and beyond. The stories are largely autobiographical and told with unusual grace warmth and wit. You get to know Huckabee in an intimate, direct and personal way. He writes much like he speaks and you can identify with him on many levels as each story unfolds.

In the introduction, Mike uses his famous wit and humor to describe how he would have done things differently if he were God but in the end, God's "Grand Miracle" was both radically simple and superior to our sophisticated thinking. In doing so, he makes the story of Mary and Joseph become alive for us in contemporary times 2010 years later. You feel the power of simplicity.

And then, we are treated to 12 stories from childhood to now in Huckabee's personal and family life. Each story is headlined by a one word theme or focus. Patience is profiled from his childhood--a lifelong problem for him. Sacrifice describes his hardscrabble existence starting out in near abject poverty. Two others share perspectives on the timeless importance of families and traditions being the glue that holds us together.

Some stories stand out because you can identify with them in a very personal way. Such is the case with story number 6 titled "Crisis". Married only seven months to his wife Janet, their world was plunged into crisis when Janet was diagnosed with spine cancer in 1975. Thirty-three years ago, cancer was a much more deadly diagnosis then than now for many cancer forms.

My wife and I faced the exact same crisis in 2006: spine cancer. A 10% chance of walking again for her but aggressive treatment and 24 months of intense physical therapy restored her ability to walk. Janet too had a good outcome following surgery and thankfully, a much shorter recovery. Suffering tests our soul and spirit but we do not suffer adversity alone. "God's greatest gift to us is not to remove us from crisis, but to walk through crisis with us."

In the closing chapter titled "Rewards" Huckabee reflects on the rich rewards of life despite its ups, downs and surprises. He reminds us that "a great Christmas isn't the expensive one or the elaborate one. It's the simple one." We might not hear it above the din of parties and bright lights.

You'll surely hear and realize it in stillness and in silence. With open hearts and thankfulness we encounter God in Christ. We encounter his saving grace and providence. This warm and witty Huck wishes us a simple Christmas.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This reviewer is not a big Mike Huckabee fan, but this book has some very moving non-political messages in it. Even a jaded, cynical critic like me found some pretty powerful messages in at least two of the chapters in this autobiographical book. Those dramatic Christmas stories may have affected me as strongly as they did because I find them particularly poignant because our family is going through a similar situation as the life and death battle against cancer of the spine that Huckabee's young bride faced only a year after they were married. The lessons the author details about how this first-hand experience with miracles was only another of the important lessons he learned as a twenty-year old man. His words give hope to all of us.
As the title suggests, this collection of twelve Christmas Stories from Huckabee's life do celebrate the true Holiday Spirit. Not all of them will move the reader to tears, but they all have a moral and in a few instances it's easy to see the source of the former Arkansas Governor's conservative philosophy. This is the story of a man who lived the American Dream and moved from real poverty to the highest success that hard work and trust in God that only America offers all its residents. This is definitely an inspiring read even for the Ex-Governor's political opponents and people who simply don't like him. Some messages transcend mere politics.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon November 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Although each chapter eventually suggests simplicity at Christmas, this book is more a biography of a pastor/communicationist/politician, his 50s-60s childhood and beyond. But it is a fun bio, often quite humorous, in a similar style like another pastor/writer/commentator (Philip Gulley) that I find homespun and worthwhile reading. Being only 7 years older than Mike Huckabee, I can relate to much of his early life, and the beginning marital financial struggles. The Simple Christmas connection to each chapter's theme was a different way to link together chunks of Huckabee memoirs. It's like a Huckabee 12 Days of Christmas.

For those caring to see some chapter details, with favorite quotes:
Intro: A Simple Christmas-- An earthy nativity rendition. "God spent His first few moments as a human in a food dish (manger)." p.xxvii
1 PATIENCE-- Lord, give me patience 'right now.' "I've come to terms with my "sins" of unwrapping gifts before Christmas" p14
2 SACRIFICE-- p.26 "the pain of seeing someone gather up my prized (guitar)" after the necessary sale. His parents also sacrificed their own gifts to buy this author's 1st childhood guitar. Christ sacrificed His own life.
3 LONELINESS-- "rarely...dead, death, and passed away. We just said it was "potato salad time."" p.38. Painful moments worse than cancer--loneliness.
4 FAMILY-- p.57 "not Jamestown but Georgia...dumped out of debtors prison in the old country...poorer than the dirt." Funny descriptions of members of author's family tree; nuttier than any oak or walnut tree.
5 TRADITIONS-- consistency, wholeness, tranquility, connections, certainty, & security "If there ever was a place where things stayed the same, it was church." p.79
6 CRISIS-- Cancer and "refugees from Arkansas" p. 101. Life & hope the only affordable Christmas gifts that year.
7 HOPE-- Moving forward--pregnancy miracle--new job. p.118 "high cotton for a kid like me" From the shadow of death to the springing of hope.
8 STABILITY-- A good management position to buying the American dream home. "Very grown up & stable." p.137
9 LIMITATIONS-- P.147 "Understand just how "dexterity challenged" I am," Accepting help when needed, even from God.
10 TRANSITIONS-- p.170 "Christmas is the perfect time to reflect" then look ahead.
11 FAITH-- Author's spiritual birthday. 5 yrs later this faith inspired his father's spiritual journey.
12 REWARDS-- last page: "A baby cries. God is speaking. It's a simple message." Christmas

OK, I'm from Indiana, Republicanism comes with the dirt, but this book is not about politics, just a politician, and his family, and their life's struggles and joys, and how A Simple Christmas always worked best, when possible.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Not only can Huckabee articulate the issues of the day...he can write--write well...and write about non-political themes...

I could relate to the story of Mike wanting a guitar...When I was in my teens nothing would do but for me to have a guitar! (I was going to be a rock star, don't you know...) My single mom was strapped for funds, but I didn't know how bad it really was. Well, she got me my guitar. And with every passing year, I appreciate her more...

This book truly touched me.

Another holiday book that touched me:Christmas Gifts, Christmas Voices: A Holiday Novel of Hope and Healing This inspiring story shows how the actions of just one individual can have far reaching effects for good...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Mike Huckabee shares what he has learned about the true meaning of Christmas---faith, love, family, and hope. In twelve homespun chapters he shares how he has learned to keep it simple. Like the first Christmas, which he assures us was not like Mary and Joseph would have planned it, but simple---as God orchestrated it. I would recommend reading one chapter each day as a way of meditating on a countdown to Christmas.

"Patience" - Mike recounts his impatience with the long wait to open Christmas presents and his lack of understanding the postponement of joy. In his mature years he has come to terms with the fact that anticipation helps him appreciate things more. The lifetime spent on this broken earth filled with all of its shortcomings, problems, and pressures will help us appreciate Heaven much more when we finally get there.

"Sacrifice" -Mike shares his passion to become a Beatle and details his life-long love of guitars. We share his joy at getting his first guitar at age 11 and are privy to the sacrifice his parents made to order this from the JC Penney Catalog. He relates what he learned about sacrifice and how the greatest sacrifice of all, God's gift of Himself, is still the foundation of every Christmas.

"Loneliness" - This was my favorite entry and the most moving of all the stories he recalled. He details his urbane and sophisticated Uncle Garvin from Houston. The last Christmas they spent together was Mike's most meaningful, not because it was a happy one, but because it wasn't. A young Mike learned the real meaning of Christmas is not giving toys but giving God's grace in person to someone who is no longer in a position to give back.

"Family" - This chapter centers on a quote from Isaiah, "Look to the rock from which you were hewn; to the quarry from which you were dug." We learn about Go-Go, his maternal grandmother, and the large gatherings of diverse personalities which is still the embodiment of Christmas traditions.

"Traditions" - Mike learns why we love traditions---because they are a connection to our past, give us a sense of security about the uncertainties of our future. He also learns they don't have to be fancy or costly; they just have to be consistent. Whether it's a tree-cutting family trek, baking cookies, or decorating the tree with the same ornaments year after year, the comforts of tradition are constants in our changing lives.

"Crisis" - As a newlywed, he learns about the most precious gift of all. His wife Janet faces spinal cancer and the prospect of death at age 20. The young couple learned God's greatest gift is not to remove us from crisis, but to walk us through it. True faith is tested not in the joyful times, but in the hard ones.

"Hope" - The Huckabees receive a true Christmas miracle when Janet gives birth. They learn that out of the depths of despair can spring hope and affirmation and the reader will also learn what the Huckabees have been topping their tree with ever since.

"Stability" - In this biographical sketch, the reader learns how the Huckabees became homeowners and how Mike got his first big career break.

"Limitations" - When attempting to put a tricycle together on Christmas Eve, Mike got an unforgettable lesson in pride and learned it's ok to admit we need help. He came to learn that Christmas is about accepting he was incapable of putting his own life together and would always need God's help.

"Transitions" -Mike discusses the milestones in his life, his career changes, his decision to act on his original goal of entering public life, the bias of the media, and his presidential bid. He reminds us to focus always on what truly matters---faith, family, freedom.

"Faith" - Mike writes affectionately of his father and how this hard-working role model taught him not only how to live but also how to die.

"Rewards" - Mike discusses his years as Governor of Arkansas and though his Christmases were much more complicated, he learned that God loves us when we have nothing and He loves us when we have a lot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
"A Simple Christmas" by Mike Huckabee is a great read on how the author remembers past Christmas seasons in his life and how he believes simplicity is the best way to celebrate Christmas (being with family and friends, reflecting on Jesus' birth, and avoiding the crass commercialism that so dominates the Christmas season today).

The book contains around 12 chapters with the following chapters and themes:

1. Patience - Huckabee and his sister's tendency to open their presents before Christmas and putting them back without being caught by their parents.
2. Sacrifice - What his parents gave up to buy Huckabee a guitar for one Christmas.
3. Loneliness - Huckabee's family taking care of a bachelor uncle suffering from terminal cancer.
4. Family - Visiting family during the Christmas season.
5. Traditions - Some of the Huckabee traditions observed during the Christmas season.
6. Crisis - When his wife suffered through cancer and was healed.
7. Hope - When Huckabee started classes at Southwestern Theological Seminary.
8. Stability - Huckabee getting a job and his wife having their first child.
9. Limitations - Huckabee humorously describes his mechanically challenged abilities (or lack thereof).
10. Transitions - When Huckabee was a pastor and entered into the political arena.
11. Faith - Huckabee's elation at being governor while also saddened that his father did not live long enough to see him being sworn in.
12. Rewards - The various rewards the Huckabee family experienced when Huckabee was governor and later when he ran as a Republican presidential candidate.

The book's narrative flows freely and may be easily read in a couple of sittings. I found myself reminiscing about past Christmas seasons and how I have been blessed myself.

Read and enjoy. Highly recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an uplifting book, but Huck is an uplifitng positive person.

After listening to the depressing nightly news, I read a chapter or a half a chapter before I go to bed. I sleep much better because the stories counteract the negative mood of this country.

Some of the stories I can relate to. I was married about the same age as he was but about thirty years before. There were very few apartments to rent because none were built during WW2 and we didn't have much money. But, with God grace, we made it. Simpler probably not but sixty-one years later we still have each other and appreciate what He has provided for us all these years.

Patricia Fagerstrom
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