Book Reviews: Everything Christmas

Everything Christmas by David Bordon and Tim Winters (WaterBrook)

Bordon and Winters obviously mean the word “everything” in the title of their gift to the holiday genre, Everything Christ-mas.  Their book contains a bit of everything, from apple pie and applesauce cinnamon ornaments to wassail and Christina Rossetti’s “What Can I Give Him?”

The authors divide their volume into 24 Advent entries, labeled December 1-24. For Christmas Day, they share the first two chapters of Luke from the Message translation of the Bible. The final page invokes a “Post-Christmas Prayer” for the “peace, justice and hope of this holy season” to last all year.

Recipes, poems, stories, sayings, Scripture, carols, gift-giving suggestions and decorations all find their way into the book. Some are familiar. Many are not. Some offer humor. Others explain Christmas dinner celebrations in various countries and detail holiday traditions. Lest the reader get lost, a healthy index serves as a great guide.

Everything Christmas contains some-thing for everyone and would be a wel-comed gift, particularly if accompanied by the prom-ise to enjoy a craft, recipe or story with the recipient.

Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president

Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Waco

Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas by Ace Collins (Zondervan)

Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas marks the publication of another of Ace Collins’ “Stories Behind the …” series. Once again, Collins has research-ed and penned a winner. He arranges the songs in “almost chronological order,” beginning with “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” concluding with “Christmas Shoes,”  and adding as a climactic note “Silent Night.”

The author describes in detail the composer, lyricist and creation of each of the 34 hits.  He mentions vari-ous artists who brought the songs to life and details their rise to holiday “hit” status. The researcher also dispels myths related to a few and tells remarkable stories of how others were written during dark, difficult days, such as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in World War II and “Let There Be Peace on Earth” in the Korean War.

Some of the six-page entries will elicit smiles, like “Silver Bells.” Others will touch deep inside, such as “Do You Hear What I Hear.” But most will evoke Christmas memories and serve as springboards for sharing personal stories of holidays past. 

Add Collins’ latest to your stash of holiday books for reading and sharing. Pull it out when you hear one of the songs to learn the story “behind the greatest hits of Christmas.”

Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president

Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Waco

Encountering Heaven and the Afterlife by James L. Garlow & Keith Wall (Bethany House Publishers)

Garlow and Wall have done a masterful job in handling delicate material about the afterlife. They approach their subject around three premises. First, they see the division between the physical and spiritual worlds to be paper thin. Second, they seek to dispel fear with knowledge. Third, the journey between these worlds shows the magnificence of God.

The stories center on themes of angels, demons, heaven, hell, deathbed visions and more.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration of Christ, the resurrection appearance of Jesus and the reference in Hebrews to the great cloud of witnesses are biblical references.

The authors close out their work by sharing five observations based on the stories they tell. First, the living person was surprised by the appearance. Second, there was no fear. Third, the appearance reduced the fear of death. Fourth, the appearance brought healing. And finally, the appearance was a one-time event.

Enjoy the fascinating accounts. You will be blessed and stretched.

Leo Smith, executive director

Texas Baptist Men, Dallas


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