Gov. Mike Huckabee told me his current best-seller, “A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit,” is his favorite of the seven books he has authored.
“Writing the book gave me a chance to write about stories that are intensely personable but also very pleasurable as I talk about things that matter so very much, not just to me but to all of us,” Huckabee said.
This year, President Obama has decided not to display the traditional Christmas crèche at the White House. After reading “A Simple Christmas,” there can be no doubt that should Gov. Huckabee ever become President Huckabee, that policy would be immediately reversed.
“A Simple Christmas” takes Huckabee back through a heartfelt remembrance of Christmas past, from the days of his early childhood to his celebration of Christmas as governor of Arkansas.
While not a book of politics, “A Simple Christmas” invites the reader to see Huckabee as he saw himself growing up, told through 12 Christmas stories that span his life from childhood to early adulthood.
A story that stands out involves Huckabee at 11 years old telling his parents that if they wouldn’t buy him an electric guitar for Christmas, he didn’t want anything.
Of course, at that early age, Huckabee had no idea how his blue-collar family would find the extra $99 to buy his coveted guitar.
“I wanted a simple Christmas that year. I didn’t ask for a lot of things – just one that meant more to me than anything else I had ever asked for,” he wrote.
“But what was simple to me was anything but simple to my parents, who had to make a really major sacrifice to give it to me. The best Christmas gifts we get are the ones that represent a sacrifice on the part of the giver.”
Here, Huckabee draws a lesson back to the true meaning of Christmas, underscoring, as he does throughout the book, how the true meaning of Christmas involves a deep appreciation of the birth of Christ.
“That’s because nothing so reflects what Christmas is all about as does sacrifice,” he continues. “God, who owed us nothing, gave us everything. He gave up more than His comfort and His crown – He gave His life, and it all started right there in a simple manger in Bethlehem.”
The guitar is a recurring theme in the 12 stories, as it is in Huckabee’s life.
“The guitar has been instrumental in shaping my life by allowing me to get out of my basic shyness,” Huckabee told WND.
Huckabee’s guitar became a signature piece during his 2008 presidential campaign, every bit as much as the guitar has become a centerpiece of his popular weekend show on Fox News.
Among the formative events that shaped Huckabee’s character is the story he relates of coping with his wife’s cancer, in the first years of their marriage, when he was a broke and struggling theology student.
After a successful operation and a near-miraculous recovery, the Huckabees celebrated Christmas that year just thankful Janet had survived.
“We had made it to Christmas, and life and hope were all that we wanted,” he wrote. “The lights were just as bright and the Christmas food was just as good, but it was the first Christmas ever that no gift at all could have equaled the one we cherished most.
“That Christmas we learned that God’s greatest gift to us is not to remove us from crisis, but to walk through crisis with us.”
In the background, we read clear signals that Huckabee has not quit thinking about yet another race for the White House.
“Jesus, who knew that His real purpose on earth was to bring people to God by preaching great sermons, performing amazing miracles, recruiting disciples, and eventually giving his life on a Roman cross, was stuck building furniture for the first 30 years of his life,” Huckabee noted.
“But God knew that the preparation was more important than the presentation, and on that day just before Christmas in 1996, I began to realize that all spiritual pilgrimages are marathons, not sprints.”
Asked what he most learned from his 2008 presidential run, Huckabee answered, “I came to appreciate what an incredible country we live in, how blessed we are to enjoy the freedoms we enjoy in this nation. Most people just want government to leave them alone.”
When asked what worries him most about the Obama administration, Huckabee expressed his concerns with “the accelerated pace toward undermining the constitutional form of government we have, from foreign policy to the economic structure of capitalism, to even being willing to compromise our sovereignty by allowing international laws to apply here.”
Huckabee said he would not even contemplate a run for president in 2012 until after the midterm elections in 2010.
“My focus right now is on doing as good a job as I can at Fox News and my radio commentaries every day,” he said.
Throughout “A Simple Christmas,” Huckabee expresses a refreshing common-sense understanding of Christ’s nativity story that is fundamental to his homespun approach to politics itself.
“Young girl gets pregnant, can’t really explain who the father is, and is forced to make a long journey with a teenage boy so he can carry out some idiotic government mandate,” Huckabee, the guitar-playing preacher-turned-politician, writes, retelling in his own unique manner the story behind the first Christmas.
“This was bad enough, but then, to add insult to injury, once the couple arrived at their destination, got counted by government, and started to head back home, she went into labor.”
Realizing there was no stretch of Marriotts along the freeway from Bethlehem to Nazareth, “the couple was getting pretty desperate when a local resident, who felt sorry for these two young teenagers, offered to let them camp out in his barn for the night.”
In the end, Huckabee expresses that he discovered that the important thing about Christmas is “the simple truth that God loves us.”