Book Review: Homeless for the Holidays

HomelessIn the novel Homeless for the Holidays by P. S. Wells and Marsha Wright, Jack Baker’s future looks bright. He has a lovely family, a great job, and expectations of a good Christmas bonus and possibly a promotional. His boss is a bit demanding, calling him nights, weekends, even Thanksgiving. But if Jack can hang on til he gets the promotion, everything will be better – so he tells his wife.

As the Bakers prepare for Christmas, they stuff shopping carts, max out credit cards, competitively search for the last of the “hot” toys. And when encountered by a child seeking donations for a charity or a Salvation Army bell ringer, Jack begrudgingly hands over the spare change in his pocket and gripes about people who don’t work for a living.

Then the unthinkable happens. A mistaken label on one of Jack’s company’s products creates a hazard. To save face, Jack’s boss makes Jack the fall guy, placing the responsibility for the fiasco on his shoulders and firing him. Jack’s boss promises Jack that once the hoopla has died down, Jack can have his job back.

In the meantime, Jack’s search for a job proves fruitless and bills start piling up. One by one his family loses services, then their car, then their home.

The book’s tag line says, “One family learns what is truly important when they lose it all and find they have everything.”

Overall it is an enjoyable book. You feel the characters’ fear and angst as the walls close in and the losses pile up and then as they discover that having all the “stuff” doesn’t matter as much as time for each other, humility, faith, and compassion. There’s a telling exchange when Jack’s wife tries to apply for food stamps and runs into all kinds of weird rules.

The one factor that keeps this story from being just another “learning the true meaning of Christmas” tale is that it is based on true events from the life of scriptwriter George Johnson. George eventually produced a movie based on his experience called Homeless for the Holidays, which released in 2009. In the back of the book George tells about his own situation and how the movie came to be.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books and Carole’s Books You Loved)



Christmas Devotional Reading


As I did for Thanksgiving, I want to take the next few weeks leading up to Christmas and post several things — anecdotes, quotes, jokes, poems, prose, etc. — related to the holidays. I have been writing and compiling what started out as a newsletter but ended up as a 12-16 page booklet for our ladies’ group at church for six years now. I love it: I think it is my favorite ministry. Usually some part of it touches on the holiday or season at hand, so I have collected a lot of things in my files over the years that I would like to share with you.

Should Christians Abandon Christmas? Sinclair Ferguson makes some great points.

The highest priority in Christmas reading, of course, is the Bible itself. Here are a few Advent Reading Plans.

I’ve already posted one of my favorites, a Christmas-based I Cor. 13. I think I need to read that at least once a week in December. Today I want to list some excellent Christmas devotional reading.

I loved this Story Behind Longfelllow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Elisabeth Elliot is one of my favorite people for many reasons. I received her newsletters for many years and hated to see them discontinued. Some of the Christmas-related thoughts from those newsletters stood out to me (Update 11/5/2020: The Elisabeth site has undergone a complete overhaul. These no longer link directly to the newsletter, but the newsletter can be downloaded from the site):

Christmas Is a Thing Too Wonderful
The Mother of the Lord
Christmas on a Bed of Pain
Crowned Because He Suffered
The Lord: Hidden, Weak, and Helpless
Do You Believe in Santa Claus? (second page)
The Nativity (second page)
Joy to the World
An Unusual Christmas Celebration
A Quieter Christmas (second page)
How Much Is Enough?
A Silver Star in a Cave (second page)
Little Mary (Scroll down)
Are Christmas Trees Okay? (Scroll down)

I had a whole list of Julia’s Bettencourt‘s Christmas devotionals, and I apologize for those who found the links no longer working. She used to have them on her website, but she has cut down on her site content. Often around certain holidays, she’ll repost some of her previous themed posts or add new ones. You might check there in the weeks before a holiday.

The holidays can compound grief for those who have lost loved ones during the year. The Most Difficult Time of the Year: How to Love Grieving Parents at Christmas had much good to say. I wrote about my own Christmas Grief due to the loss of both parents, my grandmother, and a friend during different Decembers.

This post is about not forgetting older loved ones, but it has some gift ideas for the elderly: Remembering the loved one who has forgotten you.

Finally, the morning and evening readings from C. H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening have stayed with me for years.

Here are some devotional thoughts from others that I have posted:

Ten free gifts for Christmas

For God so loved that He gave…

Mary’s Dream

If I were a goose

Christmas quotes.

Here are a few of my own Christmas posts:

God With Us

Not the Messiah They Were Looking For

Not the Savior They Were Looking For

Mary’s Virginity

The Perfect Christmas

There is no one right way to celebrate Christmas

Celebrating His Coming by Neglecting His Presence

Tips for “Managing” Christmas

Christmas Lights

Packing Up Christmas

And just for fun:

Christmas funnies or jokes #1 and #2.

Christmas Traditions Meme

A New Christmas Meme

If you’re looking for book-length Christmas devotional reading, some that I have enjoyed are (linked to my reviews):

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus:Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas, compiled by Nancy Guthrie

From Heaven: A 28-Day Advent Devotional by A. W. Tozer

Gospel Meditations for Christmas by Chris Anderson and Joe Tyrpak, and Michael Barrett

Joy to the World by C. H. Spurgeon

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent by Nancy Guthrie

Why Christ Came: 31 Meditations on the Incarnation by Joel R. Beeke

A Christmas Longing by Joni Eareckson Tada

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna by Liz Curtis Higgs

Happy reading and meditating!

(Updated 12/9/21)