Table of Contents
ALSO BY MIKE HUCKABEE
Do the Right Thing
Character Makes a Difference
From Hope to Higher Ground
Quit Dig ging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in 2009 by Sentinel, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright Â© Mike Huckabee, 2009
All rights reserved
Illustrations by Charles Waller
eISBN : 978-1-101-15947-7
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Once you read this book, you'll understand why I have to dedicate it to members of my family. I do hope they will all still speak to me and invite me to future family gatherings even though they might fear ending up in a future book or even the movie version of this one, which I'm certain Hollywood will want to make.
So to all my familyâwife, kids, sister, cousins, aunts and uncles, in-laws, outlaws, and dogsâmy thanks for giving me volumes of material to use for this Christmas memoir.
Most of all, thanks to God, who gave us the best Christmas of all when he delivered His love for us in person in the form of the baby in Bethlehem, Jesus.
“I'll be home for Christmas” is more than a classic Bing Crosby songâit's the sentiment most of us have as December 25 approaches each year. No matter what we do or where we are, there is something inside us that says that we need to be home for Christmas.
There's something about being home with family and friends that gives us grounding, a sense of place and perspective that provides stability in what might otherwise be a chaotic and turbulent world. This is especially true at Christmas, which is the one time of year when we confront who we areâI mean who we
are. By observing the traditions of the season, we are able to look back at where we came from and realize just how far we've come. We spend time with our family and remember that they are people connected to us not just through our DNA but also by memories and experiences that shaped our lives from their earliest moments. Even though the annual trek home is more painful than pleasant for some people, there is still some magnetic force that compels us to fight crowds, traffic, delays, and inconveniences just to make it home for Christmas.
For me this pull was never as strong as it was during the Christmas of 2008. It was a few days before Christmas, and I was in New York, having just finished working on that week's production schedule for my new television show on the Fox News Channel. I was eager to get home for Christmas and had determined that, like a postal worker, neither hail, nor sleet, nor snow was going to keep me from being delivered to my doorstep in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Don't get me wrongâNew York City is a truly magical place, especially at Christmas, when some of the world's most beautiful holiday displays are set up all around Times Square, at Rockefeller Center, and throughout the city. I suppose if a person had to be stuck somewhere for Christmas, New York would be about as decent a place as any, but I didn't want to be stuck anywhereânot even in New York. I had a simple questâI wanted to get
. I wasn't looking for a star-studded, glitzy New York Christmas. I wanted a
Christmas at home with my family. I didn't think this was too much to ask, and God help those who stood in my way!
New York City was a complete mess. Snow and ice had traffic snarled, and flights were being canceled out of all of the airports serving the city. It was the weekend before Christmas, and I had flown into the city on Friday, December 21, after a week in the Bahamas, where my family and I had gone to spend a few days of rest. I needed those few days! It had been a whirl-wind year. I won the Iowa caucuses in my bid to become president and came in second while trying to win the GOP nomination. In March John McCain secured the nomination, and I was left on the sidelines, so I spent the next few months trying to recover from a long, brutal, and financially draining political process. Not long after my campaign ended, I signed a book deal with Penguin Books, a contract with the Fox News Channel for a new television show, and a contract with the ABC Radio network to do daily commentaries. I was on the road just as much as, if not more than, I had been during the campaign, and I spent a lot of time campaigning for McCain and other Republican candidates all over the country. Just a few weeks before Christmas, I finished a grueling book tour that took me to fifty-three cities in eighteen days. I was exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally. The time I spent in the Bahamas was a lifesaver. I don't think I even realized just how completely worn out I was until I finally had a chance to rest.
I took a nonstop JetBlue flight from Nassau to New York's JFK Airport, and when I got to the city, it was snowing, the temperature was in the twenties, and traffic was gridlocked as only New York traffic can beâa far cry from the beautiful, warm climate I'd left just a few hours earlier. I inched my way toward Midtown to start the preparation for a television show that would air the next day. My flight back home to North Little Rock was set for first thing Sunday morning. I hadn't been home in almost three weeks and was more than ready to sleep in my own bed and play with my three dogs, who I'm pretty sure had forgotten what I looked like.
The weather in New York was getting worse, and late Friday afternoon, Delta Air Lines called to tell me that my flight for Sunday was already canceled. Because it was Christmas week, every other flight was booked solid until Tuesday, and even then they could only put me on standby. It was beginning to look like I might not make it home in time, and my hopes for a simple Christmas were beginning to die as things became more and more complicated.
Because I'm on planes four to five days a week, I have enough frequent flyer miles to qualify for the highest level of service on several airlines. This usually makes traveling a lot easier because I have a special phone number I can call for help, priority when booking and boarding, and usually the opportunity to upgrade to first class for no extra cost. But this weekend these advantages weren't helping me at all. I knew that the weather was better south of New York and if I could get to Washington, DC, I might be able to get a flight from there. I decided to take a train from New York's Penn Station to DC late Saturday night after I finished taping the show and then catch an early flight from DC to Arkansas on Sunday. There was space available on the train to DC, and Delta had a flight that would work, but the first two Delta agents I spoke to on the phone told me I couldn't change my ticket. I explained that I would pay for my ticket and lodging and that, by switching my flight, I would be doing them a favor because I'd be freeing up a seat on one of the flights out of New York. I figured this compromise was more than fair.
Somehow, neither of the first two people I spoke with saw it that way. They had “rules” and the “rules” wouldn't let me change the ticket. I asked for a supervisor; I got disconnected. I called back and had to explain my plan, which I thought was brilliant, all over again. I was more than ready to take my problem off their hands and had figured out how to do it at no cost to them! I realize that Christmas is one of the busiest travel seasons of the year and that, with passengers in a hurry to get to where they are going, the reservations and information people at the airlines are frazzled. I also know that my flight wasn't the only one canceled and that there were hundreds of people just like me who were upset and anxious. I know that. I understand that. But at the time, I didn't care about being logical or benignly accepting rational excuses. I wanted to
get home for Christmas
I can be a stubborn person when I want something badly enough. I kept calling the airline and finally talked to someone who seemed to understand that her job was not to read the rule book but to serve the people who paid her salary and help them solve their problems. That agent deserves a raise. Not only that, she should be promoted and put in charge of training other people. She approved the ticket change, I booked a train ticket and hotel room for DC, and despite the train's being an hour and a half late, I finally made it to DC around 1:00 A.M., snuck a brief nap before getting up at 4:00, went to Reagan National airport, and caught a flight to Arkansas that got me home in time for Christmas, even if it was several hours later than I had planned.