, , , , ,

Yuletide Factor - coverNormally, I don’t review a book until I’ve finished reading it. But because of the subject matter, and time of year, I’ve decided to make an exception for Tim Huff’s The Yuletide Factor.

For close to three decades, Huff has ministered to, and been ministered by, street-involved youth and adults and has become one of the Canadian Church’s leading resources on poverty and homelessness. Huff is also a musician (performing with the band Outrider) and an artist whose work has graced the pages of the Compassion series of children’s books The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge, It’s Hard Not to Stare, and the forthcoming The Honour Drum (co-authored by Cheryl Bear).

The Yuletide Factor is the third in a series of books that Huff has written about his experiences in street ministry: Bent Hope: A Street Journal and Dancing with Dynamite: Celebrating Against the Odds. Each of these books have introduced us to a number of people that have been touched by Huff’s care and compassion as he shares in their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. They also tell how these people, in spite of their own struggles with poverty, homelessness or sexual exploitation, have touched Huff’s own life.

The Yuletide Factor parallels the themes of poverty and homelessness with both Scripture and many of the cultural stories now part Christmas tradition

His latest book, The Yuletide Factor, touches on many of the same themes while, at the same time, noting the parallels between those themes and the Christmas narrative…whether the traditional Scriptural account of Jesus’ birth or the cultural stories that have become so much a part of North American Christmas tradition.

The Yuletide Factor also seems to be the most personal of Huff’s trilogy. Among the examples of his own story are:

  • His re-telling of how his annual stint as a Christmas Eve Santa for friends and family takes a poignant turn in a nearly-empty laundromat.
  • His tale about spending his teenage years years selling Christmas trees, leading to a new appreciation for retail workers during the Christmas season.
  • The memory of a Kindergarten craft for Christmas reminds him, and the reader, about one of the most down-to-earth needs of those living on the street.

As with Bent Hope and Dancing With Dynamite Huff has collaborated with other voices who share in his compassion and care for those in need. Television personalities Moira Brown and Lorna Dueck bookend The Yuletide Factor with their foreward and benediction. Singer/songwriter Steve Bell and Greg Paul (pastor and founder of Sanctuary Ministries) provide interludes to Huff’s narrative. And, after finding out that his previous two books were being used for study and discussion, Huff asked Ann Brandner to provide a reflection and discussion guide for each chapter.

Huff has the ability to write about crucial issues with care, compassion and, in some instances, humour…without laying on the guilt. But his stories do carry a sense of urgency and need, leaving many readers wondering if they are part of the problem and asking how they can become part of the solution.

The Yuletide Factor will have you looking at Christmas in an entirely different way. Maybe that’s why the book has been subtitled: Cause for Perpetual Comfort and Joy.


For more about The Yuletide Factor: Cause for Perpetual Comfort and Joy check http://tinyurl.com/jsk2wo8