From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a life-changing holiday tale of love and hope after heartbreak.
Two years after the car accident that took Erin Baxter’s life, her father, John Baxter, still lives in constant grief. John’s heartbreak prompts him to invite Kendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin’s heart, to Christmas Eve dinner despite protests from his remaining children. Ashley and Luke want to protect their ten-year-old niece who is the only surviving child of Erin’s, but John remains determined and believes that meeting this woman is something his deceased daughter would want.
Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant is struggling to come to terms with the tragedy that gave her a second chance. It is only when she witnesses the Baxter’s unwavering faith in God that she begins to heal and allow peace and happiness back into her life.
At the same time, Maddie West, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Brooke Baxter West, continues to pray for meaning this Christmas. When she discovers a newfound friendship with a boy she never expected to see again, she begins to believe in miracles, especially around Christmastime.
A Baxter Family Christmas is a heartwarming story that brings together two families in the midst of tragedy and loss, all with the help one very special child.
About the Author
Karen Kingsbury, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist, is America’s favorite inspirational storyteller, with more than twenty-five million copies of her award-winning books in print. Her last dozen titles have topped bestseller lists and many of her novels are under development as major motion pictures. Her Baxter Family books are being developed into a TV series slated to debut soon. Karen is also an adjunct professor of writing at Liberty University. She and her husband, Donald, live in Tennessee near four of their adult children.
Read an Excerpt
A Baxter Family Christmas
Heavy snow clouds hung low over Bloomington, Indiana, the Saturday before Thanksgiving. But the atmosphere was warm and bright in the Clear Creek High School gym, where Ashley Baxter Blake sat next to her husband, Landon. On the floor with the ball was her fifteen-year-old son, Cole, whose freshman team was minutes from beating its crosstown rival.
The high-pitched sound of a whistle pierced the gymnasium. “Traveling!” The ref called Cole for the violation and instantly Ashley was on her feet. “Are you se—” She eased herself back down to the bleacher and bit the inside of her lip. Gradually she brought her hands together and clapped. “Here we go. You got this, Cole.”
Four-year-old Janessa scrambled up onto Ashley’s lap. “Cole’s the best basketball boy in the world, right, Mommy?”
“Yes, baby.” Ashley kissed her cheek. “And the refs are just human.” She met Landon’s eyes over Janessa’s head and managed a smile. She mouthed her next words to him. I’m trying.
Landon chuckled. “You’ve come a long way.”
It was true. Cole was just a little guy when he first started playing basketball here. Part of the park league program. On his first game, Ashley had caught herself getting too enthusiastic, yelling a bit too loud. And yes, maybe a bit too concerned with questionable calls by the referees. Her attitude wasn’t that surprising. Lately she’d been frustrated with her father and snapping at everyone.
Ashley drew a slow breath. She still cared about the calls and the scoreboard. But she’d learned a lot. Winning and losing meant nothing compared to the thrill of enjoying the game.
Cole played basketball because he loved it. Today. For now. If he scored twenty points and his team won, great. But the joy Ashley felt watching her son play had nothing to do with his points scored or an official’s call or whether Cole played next season. Let alone whether he played college ball one day.
Even living here in the shadow of Bloomington’s Indiana University.
Amy, ten, and Devin, eight, sat on the other side of Landon. Devin tugged Landon’s sleeve. “That wasn’t traveling, right, Dad?”
Landon smiled. “If the ref says it’s traveling . . .”
“Oh! I know!” Amy’s eyes lit up. “If the ref says it’s traveling, it’s traveling!” She came up behind Landon and looped her arms around his neck. “Right?”
“Right.” Landon grinned at Ashley and then he winked at Devin. “You have to play ten points above the refs. Just in case.”
Thanksgiving was less than a week away, but Ashley Baxter Blake’s mind was on Christmas, and the dinner her dad was trying to pull together. Which was the reason she felt so irritated.
By halftime Cole’s team was up six points. The kids were hoping for the first snow of the season, so Landon agreed to take them outside to check. Ashley stood to follow but her phone rang. Her dad’s name appeared on the screen. She motioned for Landon to go on without her. Then she took the call.
“Hey, Dad.” She sat down again and tried to sound pleasant. “How are you?”
“Good. Beautiful day. It’s already snowing here.”
Ashley pictured it, the way fresh snow looked across Bloomington. The whole town would turn into a Norman Rockwell painting, the way it did every year at this time. “Amy and Devin will be thrilled.”
“You kids always were when you were little!” Her dad laughed. “Of course, we always needed a big box by the front door for coats and mittens and boots. But that never stopped us!”
Ashley smiled at the memory. It seemed like yesterday when she and her siblings were the little ones, clamoring to get outside and play in the first snow. Now all of them were married with kids of their own.
Her dad paused for a moment, and Ashley could feel his tone change before he said a word. “Ashley, I think you know why I called . . .”
She closed her eyes. I’m not ready for this, God. Help me. Please . . .
“You and Landon.” Her father sighed. “You haven’t given me an answer about Christmas Eve. About dinner with Kendra Bryant and her husband.”
Anxiety left an instant wake across the already troubled waters of Ashley’s heart. She blinked a few times and stared at the small cross on the wall just above the side entrance to the gym. “I’m not trying to be difficult, Dad.”
“I know.” His tone was kind. “And I don’t want to force your decision. It’s just . . . I’d like a plan.”
Thanksgiving was still days away, but her father had been talking about Christmas Eve since the beginning of November. Ashley and her siblings disagreed about how to handle their dad’s request. But Ashley was easily the most concerned about the idea. “Landon and I talked. We don’t think a family meeting with Kendra on Christmas Eve is a good idea. Maybe not ever.”
Silence followed before her dad finally spoke. “I understand.”
“You can still use our house. Landon and the kids and I will have dinner with his parents.” Ashley tried to sound upbeat. But her effort didn’t seem to be working. “I don’t want to get in the way of your plans. But on Christmas Eve? I’m not sure how Amy would handle that.”
“I like the idea of Christmas Eve. Because everyone will be together.” Her dad sounded like he was struggling with the idea, also. At least a little. “I keep asking myself what would Erin want us to do?”
The mention of her sister made Ashley catch her breath. For a long moment she didn’t speak. She closed her eyes again. Erin should be here, God. We shouldn’t even be having this conversation.
“I’m sorry.” She exhaled slowly. “What would I say to her?” What would any of them say? She spotted Landon and the kids entering the gym again, headed toward her. “Can I call you tonight? I’m at Cole’s game. Halftime’s almost over.”
Her dad hesitated, but only slightly. “Sure.” He paused. “Tell Cole I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I had a few things to do around the house this morning. Next time, okay?”
“Of course.” Ashley smiled. Her dad usually attended every game. Today, though, she was almost glad he wasn’t here. She couldn’t spend the hour talking about Christmas Eve and meeting the stranger with Erin’s heart. It was all too sad.
Cole’s team won the game and they drove home to play in the snow. Once the kids were outside, Ashley and Landon stood near the window. “I don’t have peace about it. I don’t think it’s good for Amy to meet this Kendra woman.”
“Honey.” He turned to face her. “You’re clearly uncomfortable with this.” Landon hugged her and searched her eyes. “So we skip the Christmas Eve dinner this year. We’ll still see each other the next day.”
Ashley looked long at her husband. She loved him so much. “Thank you. For understanding.”
“Always.” He shifted gears, grinned and motioned to the snow out front. “Let’s go show the kids how to build a real snowman.”
Ashley didn’t call her father back until later that night when the kids were in bed. “Like I said earlier, Dad. Landon and I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“Okay.” He was quicker to respond this time. “I understand. Really.” He paused. “If you change your mind, just let me know.”
His statement frustrated her. “Meaning . . . you hope we’ll still join you?”
“Sure. Yes, that’s what I’d like.”
“But Dad . . .” Ashley paced across her bedroom floor. “I just got done telling you we won’t be there.” Nothing about this was easy.
“Just pray about it, okay? Can you do that for me?”
Ashley was near tears by the time she hung up. Her dad had never raised his voice, but he seemed unwilling to accept her decision.
After the call she found Landon in the kitchen washing the counters. “I talked to my dad.”
He looked over his shoulder, his handsome face suddenly concerned. “He still wants us to be there?”
“Yes.” Did she look as weary as she felt? She waited while he dried his hands and the two of them took seats opposite each other at the kitchen table.
Landon searched her face. “Tell me, Ash.”
She nodded and her eyes found a spot on the table. “He wasn’t angry or anything. But he wants us there.” She looked up at him. “He asked us to pray about it.”
“Yeah.” Tears filled Ashley’s eyes. “I mean . . . of course we can pray. But think about how hard it would be.”
“We don’t have to be here.” Landon covered her hand with his. “You can stick to your decision.”
Ashley stood, paced to the sink, and turned again to face him. “Doesn’t my dad get it? We’re talking about Christmas!” She kept her voice low so she wouldn’t wake the kids. But her tone was strained all the same. “Okay, so the woman has Erin’s heart. She doesn’t believe in God and she needs hope and direction. Her marriage is in trouble.” Ashley walked from one side of the kitchen to the other. “I get all that. But why is that our job? Couldn’t we pray for her? Call a church in her area and try to get her connected?”
Landon shifted in his chair.
“I mean, there we’ll all be. Standing around making small talk with this . . . this stranger. And the whole time she’s only alive because Erin died. How are we supposed to have a beautiful Christmas Eve with all of that going on?”
“I hear you.” Landon didn’t look away, didn’t argue with her. “Your dad means well. I believe that.”
Ashley tossed her hands in the air and paced back to the sink. “That’s the hardest part. Of course he means well. He always means well. He loves everybody.”
A smile tugged at Landon’s lips. “No matter how far gone they are.”
The fight left Ashley and she felt her shoulders drop a bit. “Even me. Back in the day.”
Landon gave a light shrug. “Just saying.”
“Deep down you’re not really on his side, though, right?” Tears blurred her eyes again. “Landon, really? On Christmas Eve?”
“I’m on your side, baby.” He stood and came to her. “But I guess it’s possible . . . Christmas Eve could change the woman.”
A sigh slid from Ashley’s heart through her lips. “That’s what my dad says.” She came to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I just can’t imagine it. Like what if I can’t stop crying?” She pressed her head against his chest. “And what about Amy? How is she supposed to deal with that? Her mother’s heart beating in the chest of a stranger? Right there in the middle of our Christmas celebration?”
“I get that.” He eased back and looked into her eyes. “Maybe we should—” He seemed to notice something as he looked toward the doorway. “Amy. Honey, why are you out of bed?”
“You’re talking loud.” She wore a red flannel nightgown and rubbed her eyes, the light from the kitchen clearly too bright for her.
“Oh, honey.” Ashley felt a rush of remorse. “I’m so sorry.” She shared a quick glance with Landon. “Come on. I’ll walk you back to your room. Me and Uncle Landon will be quieter. I promise.”
Fifteen minutes later she returned to the kitchen. Landon was cleaning again, this time drying the stovetop. He set the towel down and turned to Ashley. “Think she heard us?”
“I asked her.” Ashley put her face in her hands for a few seconds and then looked at Landon again. “She said no.”
“She must’ve heard some of it.”
“I think so.” Ashley took his hands. “I thought about talking to her, asking her about it, but even that could be devastating.”
Ashley saw the compassion in Landon’s eyes. He loved all their children so much. And he treated Amy like one of his own. Ashley kept her voice low. “She’s had to live with so much loss.”
“Just like you.” Landon pulled her gently into his arms. “Like all of us.”
She searched his eyes. “But you don’t think anything good could come from meeting with the woman, do you? For Amy?” She paused. “We’re the ones raising her. We should know what’s best for her, don’t you think?”
“I’m not sure.” His words came slowly, his eyes shining with love for her. “Could there be some comfort in it? Knowing that her mother’s heart saved the life of someone else?”
The idea hadn’t really occurred to Ashley. She let her forehead lean against his. “I can’t see that happening. It would be so sad.”
“Well . . .” Landon eased back so he could see her again. “We don’t have to decide now. Christmas is still a month away.”
Ashley nodded. She looked deep into his eyes, all the way to his beautiful heart. “Thank you. For listening to me.”
“It’s a lot.” He brushed his thumb along her cheek. “Wanna pray?”
Her vision blurred with tears. She felt weary, afraid. “Yes. Please.” She closed her eyes, but her fear and frustration only increased. The last few years had brought a gradual healing after the loss of Erin. Meeting Kendra would take her back to that terrible day in the emergency room, the day they found out about the accident.
Landon prayed out loud, asking God to give them wisdom and clarity about the possible meeting. He also asked that Ashley might have peace, whatever they decided, and that her father might think hard about the situation. When he was done praying, Landon ran his hands over her dark, shoulder-length hair. “Has anyone ever told you?” He grinned.
The heaviness in her soul lifted. She knew what was coming.
Landon raised his brow, his eyes sparkling. “You have the most beautiful hair.”
She giggled. “Thank you, sir.”
He moved in closer and kissed her. The sort of kiss that still took her breath away. “Now . . . how about we get some sleep?” He kissed her again. “God will make the answers clear.”
“Mmm.” Ashley kissed him this time. “You’re a good kisser.”
“You, too.” Landon took her by the hand and led her toward the stairs and their bedroom on the second floor.
Ashley would be thankful every day for Landon Blake. The man he’d always been. It was hard to believe she had almost walked away from him all those years ago. Back when she was angry at God and not sure of her place in her family.
As she climbed the stairs, Ashley remembered it all again.
She was the third daughter of John and Elizabeth Baxter. One of six kids, all grown up now. All married with kids. Her parents had seen her through those difficult years. When she’d come home from Paris alone and pregnant and rebellious.
But it was Landon Blake who had given his life for her and Cole. He loved Ashley’s son like the boy was his own. Ashley’s mother grew sick with cancer, but she lived long enough to see Ashley and Landon marry. They’d had three kids since then. One who only lived a few hours before joining her grandmother in heaven.
Then came the car accident. Ashley’s dear youngest sister, Erin, and her husband, Sam Hogan, and three of their daughters all killed that terrible day. Only their daughter Amy had lived. Raising her now was something else Landon took on as easily as he breathed.
That was the kind of man Landon was.
They reached their bedroom door. It was a miracle any of her family had made it through the heartache of that time. Erin’s organs had gone to several recipients. And her heart had gone to Kendra Bryant. An atheist.
The woman her father had invited to join them for Christmas Eve dinner.
“Hey.” Landon turned and put his arms around her neck. “You’re thinking about it again.”
She smiled. “How come you know me so well?”
“Because.” He kissed her. “When you’re sad . . . my heart hurts.” He smiled. “It’s always been that way.”
“I love you.” Ashley rested her head on his chest. She didn’t know what she had done to deserve a man like Landon Blake. But she knew this much. No family could be expected to meet a woman whose heart once belonged to one of their own. Especially on Christmas Eve.
Not even the Baxter family.
Amy Hogan couldn’t sleep. She lay in bed in her dark room and stared at the moon just outside her window. You’re here, God. I know it. Right beside me. She waited a minute in case God wanted to say something. But Amy didn’t hear any actual words.
Okay, God . . . so I heard everything they said. Now what am I supposed to do about it?
She rolled onto her side and tucked her hand under her pillow. Aunt Ashley didn’t want to meet the woman. She thought it would be too sad.
But it was all Amy could think about.
What kind of a person was this stranger? What did she look like? Aunt Ashley said the woman was only alive because Amy’s mommy died. You must have really special plans for her, right, God? Because she got to live and my mommy didn’t.
Tears came. Amy couldn’t stop them.
She didn’t talk about her mom that much anymore. She loved Aunt Ashley and Uncle Landon. She felt like part of the family here. But every night before she fell asleep she did the same thing. She looked out the window, up toward heaven, and asked God to do something for her.
Tonight, though, she wasn’t ready to do that yet.
Her thoughts were so loud she didn’t want to sleep. What would it be like? Would the woman look like her mommy? Would she sound like her? Since she had her mommy’s heart?
Amy wiped her tears with the sleeve of her nightgown.
Then a picture came to her mind of what it might be like.
It would be Christmas Eve and the woman would walk into the house. She would look like her mommy and sound like her. And Amy would run up and hug her and put her head against the woman and then . . . for the first time in such a long time, Amy would hear her mother’s heartbeat. The way she used to hear it when her mommy would hug her and read to her and sing with her.
That would be really nice. Amy thought about that for a long time and her tears stopped. She rolled onto her back again and closed her eyes.
It’s time, God. Like every night. Can you please tell my mommy and daddy and sisters that I love them. And I miss them. Amy waited. One more thing, God. Please can you ask my mommy if I should meet this woman who has her heart? Okay. That’s all. Thank you, God.
With that, Amy yawned and a few minutes later she fell asleep.
But this time her dreams weren’t about school or her cousins or her aunt and uncle. They were about a woman she had never met. A woman who looked and sounded like her mommy. And whose hug made Amy feel—if just for a little while—that her mommy was right here with her again.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Believe it or not, even though this is the 24th book in the Baxter Family series, I read this without reading any others. There is enough background information given that I had no problem following the story. In a previous book, Erin Baxter, her husband and 2 of her 3 children were killed in a horrendous car accident. She was a donor, so her heart was transplanted into Kendra Bryant. A non-Christian woman, who is experiencing marital problems, she is trying to decide if she wants to meet the Baxters once she is invited by John Baxter. While Kendra is dealing with this, Erin's sister is also trying to determine if she wants to meet Kendra. She has adopted Erin's surviving child and has determined that it would be too hard for her. In another storyline, Maddie West has met a boy she likes and is struggling with her feelings. She feels guilty about an accident her sister had when she was young and was left brain damaged. Maddie thinks it is unfair for her to have a relationship when her sister never will. Karen Kingsbury has written a good story. She knows how to write to get people invested in her story. This is a Christian story and both the Baxter and Flannigan families are true believers. They pray for guidance, believe that God will provide for them and lead them in the right direction.This was a story about a Christmas Miracle based on faith, love, and understanding. I wish I had read others in this series, because these characters are ones I would like to get to know better.
This is absolutely one of t1he best Christmas books I have ever read. Karen wrote her best Baxter novel to date and it was nice to be back with the Baxter's I am waiting for the next Baxter Novel You will be blessed by reading this book.
I'm going to be honest here and tell you that this is the first book in the Baxter Family Saga series I've ever read, I have read one or two Karen Kingsbury books, decided she's a stellar writer but I don't like to cry through my books so that pretty much was when I backed away. Then I saw the cover for A BAXTER FAMILY CHRISTMAS and it looked so inviting and welcoming and I had to read it. So, I did. At first I kind of felt like an unwelcome guest. I didn't know these people. I didn't care about them, and there I was sitting at their dining room table involved in a terribly intimate conversation about a heart transplant and how they'd like to meet the reciprocate. Wonderful. But that meant someone died. Who? Why? How? I did keep reading and I grew to care about the characters in this book (I probably won't go back and read the other books, but I enjoyed the time I spent with the Baxter family in this family saga. I especially liked the fledgling romance forming between two teens and how the Christmas Eve family gathering ended. Sweet. I got a copy of this book off Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
A Baxter Family Christmas is a sweet clean read. A beautiful book to snuggle up with in front of the fireplace, the Christmas lights twinkling in the background, while you sip on a warm mug of hot cocoa (or my favorite… Russian tea). It is like reading a Hallmark movie. FYI… I mean that in the very best sense. I love Hallmark movies! Surprisingly, for as long as I have been reading Christian fiction, I have never read one of the books about the Baxter family. The odds of my having read one seem high since there are 25 books about the Baxters. Yep, 25 books (and it keeps on growing)! Yet somehow I completely missed out. My unfamiliarity with the Baxters didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story at all. What it did was peak my interest in them. Maybe it is time for me to begin delving further into their story. If you want to join me, I have the Baxter family story, told throughout a number of series, listed out in order at the bottom of my post. It should keep you busy for awhile ;). I must send up a snow flurry to mess with this cozy scene. Like many other stories in this genre, Karen Kingsbury’s characters are just a wee bit too perfect. Everything that the characters want to have happened, happens. This Christmas gift is packaged just a bit too perfectly. Even so, I would recommend reading A Baxter Family Christmas (as long as you don't have a tendency to hold yourself up to fictional characters and then find yourself wanting... the author perfected them before placing them on the page... your author is perfecting you day by day). “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” — Hebrews 10:14 NIV “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” — Phillippians 3:12-14 Merry Christmas! As a reviewer for NetGalley, I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. My thanks to the author and publisher. review by Zoe @ the blessed and bewildered blog
I've read a number of the Baxter Family's early books, and this particular book still brings back character memories and events from the past. I found the first half or more of this particular book a bit slow and written for a younger audience in my estimation. I was somewhat surprised at that revelation since the earlier books in this series were very entertaining and a bit faster paced. Eventually the book reached a pivotal point that was so touching and sensitive that it brought me to tears more than once. This sensitivity continued through to the end of the book, and "wowed" me! The last third of the book is what I remember of Karen Kingsbury's earlier books. Don't give up on this one. There is much to absorb toward the end of this book! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher and my review contains only my expressed opinions.
I loved meeting up with the Baxters again. I didn't read every series about them but I read at least two. It was great seeing where they were now. True to Karen's form I was crying as I read this book. She has a way of pulling on the heart-strings and bringing emotion to life. This is truly a beautiful Christmas story, that has everything one would look for in a good book. Redemption, romance, traditions. The power of God is woven throughout this book. If made me question how little I expect miracles to happen, but God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and He still does do supernatural things. If you are looking for a quick Christmas read I highly recommend this one. A copy of this book was given to me by Netgalley.com. All opinions are my own.
I enjoyed having this chance to visit with the Baxter family and their friends. It was fun to see what their holiday traditions are and to see that they have moved on to the point that they can remember the joy that Erin's family provided. Anyone who has followed the Baxters will welcome this visit.
I was delighted to once again spend time with the Baxter family. I think what I love most about this family is following the patriarch, John Baxter, through his daily interactions with his family, seeing his wisdom and his shortcomings and the effect they have on his family. If you have read all of the books about this family and the series about Bailey Flanigan, whose family are friends of the Baxters, you have seen John leading in a quiet, gentle way throughout. Everyone in the family knows he is not perfect but they have immense confidence in and love for him. The other family members have all been impacted by his life and testimony. Like other families, they have had some wonderful times through the years but they have also faced tragedy together. Not the least of the tragedies was when Erin, the youngest daughter of John and Elizabeth Baxter, was killed in a terrible automobile accident along with her husband and three of their daughters. Only one daughter survived. Erin’s heart was donated to another young woman who was going to die without a new heart. As the Baxter family celebrates Thanksgiving together, talk turns to their annual Christmas Eve dinner and John makes a surprising announcement. I recommend you read the book to see how his announcement is received and how the different family members respond. Has John totally lost it this time? What lessons can be learned from the actions of the Baxter siblings? As you read, think about how your family would respond in a similar situation.
Very much enjoyed my visit with the Baxter family. I enjoy these books so much because they are real life situations. Just because you are saved, does not mean your entire life is roses everywhere and birds singing every time you open the door. Good things happen, bad things happen, life happens and the Baxter family just keeps growing. If you have never read Karen Kingsbury, you need to start.
I fell in love with the Baxter family years ago and was so excited to read their Christmas story. It did not disappoint. Christmas is not the same this year without the youngest daughter/sister Erin, her husband Sam, and three of their four children. Amy, at age ten, lost her parents and her three sisters in that horrible car accident. This Christmas presented a dilemma of sorts to the Baxter family. They always all got together for dinner on Christmas Eve. This year, John Baxter (patriarch of the family) wanted to meet the woman that had been given his daughter’s heart and invited her. At least two of the siblings were against that idea and insisted they wouldn’t attend. One of them was Ashley, the aunt Amy was living with. Ashley felt it would hurt Amy to have Kendra there. How does the family come to terms with this arrangement? Do they come to terms with it? Pick up a copy of this book…you’ll love the Baxters as much as I do! I was given this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter’s daughter, Erin, her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinner—Kendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin’s heart. In light of their father’s idea, Ashley and her brother Luke don’t think it’s right. They want to protect their ten-year-old niece, Amy—the only surviving member of the accident. But John is determined and believes meeting this woman is something his deceased daughter would want. At the same time, Maddie West, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Brooke Baxter West, is praying for meaning this Christmas. Could she find it in a newfound friendship with a boy she never expected to see again? Maddie believes in miracles, especially at Christmastime, but this is a stretch even she can’t imagine. Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant has been struggling these past few years to find purpose in the tragedy that gave her a second chance. She believes the invitation to see the Baxters and witness their unwavering faith in God can instill peace and happiness back into her life. Heartwarming and touching, filled with love and redemption, A Baxter Family Christmas brings together two families in the aftermath of loss and in the midst of an unfolding love story, all with the help of one very special child. I have enjoyed reading all the previous books about the Baxter family. This was a very emotional story as well as a beautiful story of redemption, hope, forgiveness and joy. I recommend it as a heartwarming story full of love and tenderness, an excellent example of sharing faith with others.
A Baxter Family Christmas is Karen Kingsbury's latest instalment in the Baxter Family saga. If you haven't read the other 23 Baxter books, don't worry! You can start right here and join the Baxter's for Christmas. I have no doubt however, after you read this one, you will be hooked and want to go back and read the others. Losing a loved one is never easy. Although the grief passes, you still feel a void even after years have past, especially around the holidays. What if, they were an organ donor and you had the opportunity to meet the recipient? To hear their heart beat one more time. Who wouldn't want that chance? John Baxter loves his family, but losing a daughter is hard. You're not supposed to outlive your childen it just isn't right. He's trying to come to grips with it, it's been a few years, but he just can't make peace. So, he reaches out to Kendra, the lady who received Erin's heart. He feels like meeting her and letting her meet the family might provide the healing they need for all of them to move on. He's kept in touch with Kendra and decides to invite her to the family's Christmas Eve celebration. He feels it's the right thing to do. Not everyone agrees with him. Some accuse him of being selfish while others respect and understand what he's trying to do. The Baxters have never spent a Christmas Eve apart, afterall Christmas is a time to celebrate the Savior's birth and for families to be together. Will this year be the exception? Maddie West is carrying a huge load of guilt over a pool accident that happened years ago. She has made a promise to herself that if Hayley can't have a "normal" life then she won't either. She never pauses to consider that God may have other plans in store for her, one of them being Connor Flanigan. She is committed to the promise she made and pushes away his attempts at friendship. I love Karen Kingsbury books and the way she makes the characters come to life and jump off the page and into your heart. This one is no different. I felt for John, how hard it must be to lose a child and simply desire to hold them one last time and say all the things you never got to say. And sweet little Amy, the only one to survive the family's wreck, desperately wanting to see her mom one last time. It's hard trying to hold onto the past while moving into the future. Sometimes the best you can do is put one foot in front of the the other, trusting God to take care of the rest. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 * I was provided a free copy of this book. The opinions expressed above are my own.
Who else is addicted to Karen Kingsbury? Who else feels like they know the Baxters personally? Even if you have never read any of Karen's other books, you'll love the Baxter family from page 1 to the very last page. I read this book in two days. I loved every last minute of it.
The Baxter family has been a part of my reading life for a long time. I have read the entire series and am now listening to them on c.d. It was so nice to revisit the family and see what is going on. This is a great addition to the series; however, if you have never read any of these books you can start here. There is just enough explanation as to who and what that it helps catch you up, if you need a reminder or if you are new to the characters. This story was truly thought provoking on many levels but as usual the underlying story of family, faith and love come shining through. So glad to hear there will be more books in the series.
In the latest Baxter family installment, the family is preparing to gather together for their traditional family Christmas. But John Baxter is pushing for the family to meet Kendra Bryant, the woman who received Erin Baxter’s heart after her fatal car crash. Unfortunately, not all the family agrees with him. And now, the Baxter family is divided. Will this be the first year that the family doesn’t celebrate Christmas together? Meanwhile, Maddie still struggles with guilt over her sister’s drowning accident years before. Can she receive the Christmas miracle she’s been praying for? Although this book can most definitely be read by somebody not familiar with the Baxter Family books, fans of Ms. Kingsbury’s Baxter Family series will not be disappointed with this latest installment. I was thrilled with all of the familiar characters in the book and how the story picks right up as if catching up with old friends. And even though I felt that the pace was a bit slow in some places, overall, the story was very good. Kingsbury truly has a way with words and she writes in such a way that the reader really feel the emotion of the characters. A couple of times I had to literally wipe the tears off my face because I got so wrapped up in the book. I’ve always appreciated how Kingsbury has set up this series in that she could literally keep writing books in this series forever. And in fact, at the end of the book, Kingsbury announces that she’ll be writing a few more Baxter books! So we can all look forward to those as well! (I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All of the above opinions are entirely my own.)
A Baxter Family Christmas is Karen Kingsbury’s newest addition to the Baxter Family Series and it’s another work of a master author. It’s been two years since a horrible car accident took the lives of Erin Baxter, the youngest daughter of John Baxter, her husband and 3 of their 4 children. As the holidays approach, John Baxter wants to invite Kendra Bryant, the woman who received Erin’s heart following the accident, to Christmas dinner with the Baxter family. The announcement is received by the family with mixed feelings especially Ashley and her brother Luke. They want to protect Erin’s surviving daughter Amy. They also know that Kendra and her husband are atheists and have an unhappy marriage. However, John pushes ahead thinking this is what Erin would want. Kendra is troubled. Her marriage to Moe seems to be on the rocks and she doesn’t know how to save it. But after being in contact with John Baxter, she begins to question her beliefs and why she was given a second chance at life. There is also Maddie West, daughter of Brooke Baxter, who prays for a special Christmas miracle for her sister. Karen Kingsbury tells a beautiful, heart-warming Christmas story of two families coming together after a tragedy to celebrate their strong belief in God, family, and reconciliation. What makes the story so special is Karen Kingsbury’s writing. The Baxter family comes alive and could be anyone’s family complete with hurt feelings and misunderstandings. However, throughout all is the theme of God’s constant love and unwavering faith. It’s a feel good story and a perfect way to celebrate the Birth of Christ without a heavy does of commercialism. I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and Howard Books
Wished there was more than 153 pgs