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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Santa’s Secret: A Christmas Novel by Christy Hardman with Phil Porter

You know, Christmas is such a special time of year it’s no wonder that so many inspired things happen in relationship to that season. I’m not fond of all the commercialism, or of the hustle and bustle and “have-to’s” so many people make up for themselves. I am fond of the music, art and literature that come out of this season, though. To me, those are the places you can really find the spirit and joy of Christmas.

Santa’s Secret: A Christmas Novel by Christy Hardman with Phil Porter is one of those places. This book was a special treat to read because it puts Christmas into a unique perspective. When it comes to Christmas, there are just about as many different opinions about what the holiday should and shouldn’t mean as there are people who celebrate it. I’ve known people who embrace the concept of Santa with gusto. They spend half the year preparing for Christmas and the other half of the year recovering from it. I’ve known people who refuse to allow Santa into their Christmas at all, because they feel he has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas. I have known people who use Christmas exclusively for Santa and celebrate the birth of the Savior on entirely different days of the year. I’ve known people who seem able to keep everything in perspective and others who ignore it all because they feel no matter how it’s done the whole holiday is too hyped up to carry the spirit of Christ.

That’s why I love Santa’s Secret. It takes the two things many people try to find a happy balance in and places a very Christ-like perspective on them. Santa’s Secret tells the story of one man who began playing Santa Claus as a way to make ends meet at Christmas, but in the process discovers the “magic” of the season as well as his own testimony of the Savior and the spirit of love that should be associated with His name. It’s a beautiful thing to watch Phil Porter don a Santa suit and at the same time put on the mantle of disciple of Christ. He is a force for good that many of us forget about in all the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I loved every minute of my time with Santa’s Secret. There were many sweet tears shed and closeness to the Spirit that can sometimes be overlooked when sources like this book aren’t available to remind me how much I’m loved and blessed by my Heavenly Father.

Here’s a neat hint: I love the fact that Santa’s Secret is divided into 11 chapters. That set up makes it very convenient for reading each night for the last 12 nights before Christmas. The first 11 days you get a chance to see how Santa should fit into Christmas, on day 12 you read the nativity story and feel the power of how it really does fit, in terms of truth and light, not commercialism. I’ve already earmarked this title as a gift for several people I know. Read it early on in the season and I’m sure you’ll find yourself saying, “Yes, this is exactly what so-and-so needs right now.”

There are also convenient discussion questions in the back of the book that are not overly complicated or expect you to philosophy on some message you didn’t even know the story had. (Yes, I was traumatized by a few AP English classes in my day.) These can also be used to help your family (or a family you know) focus on what they can take away from the story. I appreciate it when books I want to make an impression on my children make that “talking” process easier for me.

I firmly place Santa’s Secret on my recommended reading for each of you, my readers, this Christmas. It will make a difference in how you see the season. I promise. Hey, if it doesn’t you’re always welcome to bomb my house with chocolate or something.

Okay. Here’s a related, but unrelated, side note: I’m really getting tired of all this crying business. Why do you guys have to write such awesome stories that always make me cry? Somebody please send me a good book to review that does nothing more than make me laugh my guts out, I’m begging you!

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