In a beautifully rendered portrait, Jimmy Carter remembers the Christmas days of his Plains boyhood -- the simplicity of family and community gift-giving, his father's eggnog, the children's house decorations, the school Nativity pageant, the fireworks, Luke's story of the birth of Christ, and the poignancy of his black neighbors' poverty. Later, away at Annapolis, he always went home to Plains, and during his Navy years, when he and Rosalynn were raising their young family, they spent their Christmases together re-creating for their children the holiday festivities of their youth. Since the Carters returned home to Plains for good, they have always been there on Christmas Day, with only one exception in forty-eight years: In 1980, with Americans held hostage in Iran, Jimmy, Rosalynn, and Amy went by themselves to Camp David, where they felt lonely. Amy suggested that they invite the White House staff and their families to join them and to celebrate. Nowadays the Carters' large family is still together at Christmastime, offering each other the gifts and the lifelong rituals that mark this day for them. With the novelist's eye that enchanted readers of his memoir An Hour Before Daylight, Jimmy Carter has written another American classic, in the tradition of Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory and Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales.

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