A Better December: Proverbs to Brighten Christmas

Steven Estes
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Foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada

Know someone frazzled, sad, or lonely this Christmas? A Better December by Steve Estes applies Solomon's Proverbs to holiday stresses. Playful and tiny, this illustrated work would be a good gift for your unbelieving friends as it gently introduces Jesus during a month when they are more receptive.

Combining true, heart-warming stories with pen-and-ink illustrations, the book uncovers and answers our December longings.

Beginning with bite-sized chapters of Solomon's advice to frazzled, lonely people at Christmas, Steven Estes presents the ancient sage as penning his blockbuster Proverbs to help future readers through holiday stress and even sadness. Meant to be shared with all who long for a better December, it points the way to true comfort and a true home.


Steven Estes, MDiv, is the senior pastor at Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, PA. He is the author of A Better December and Called to Die and the coauthor with Joni Eareckson Tada of A Step Further and When God Weeps. He and his wife, Verna, have eight children.

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"I've found it! The perfect gift for special friends at the season of the year that's so full of delights and stresses. This unique little gem of a book seems to have managed lightning strikes on every pageÑsurprise lightning strikes of wit and wisdom that wouldn't let me put it down until I'd explored it to the end, an end that came all too soon. Steve, you've done it againÑinvented a new genre and made it soar."
Robertson McQuilkin, President Emeritus, Columbia International University

"In a uniquely original style, Steve seamlessly merges poetry, narration, and Scripture, with strikingly creative phrasing. A master of prose, poetry, and the Bible, Steve has written a little book that bends and blends genres. A Better December is a winning combo of insightful content about how to 'do life' (Steve's phrase) and innovative style. We enjoyed this little book so much that when we finished it, we immediately reread itÑfor its profound biblical tracing from Solomon to Someone, for its emphatic message about 'unstuffing' life, and for its fresh use of language and memorable style."
Don and Jenny Killgallon, coauthors of the Sentence-Composing textbook series. Don teaches writing at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

"In listening and in reading I respond to brevity, clarity, conviction, common sense, and love. That describes both the Proverbs of Solomon and my friend Steve Estes's A Better December. In this little book Steve applies his heart to blending Proverbs with Christmas and delivers a strong dose of longing and joy."
Max McLean, President & Artistic Director, Fellowship for the Performing Arts

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15 Reviews

  • 3
    Not my cup of tea

    Posted by Edna Louise on 10 03 2023

    There were some clever and inspirational parts to this book but I only read half of it. It was disjointed and I didn’t know where it was going much of the time. I’m going to give it to an artsy friend who may enjoy it more.

  • 5
    Compassion, Celebration, and Counsel for a Joy Filled Christmas

    Posted by Richard R. Blake on 06 10 2019

    Steven Estes captures the full gambit of feelings that accompany the Christmas season in A Better December: Proverbs to Brighten Christmas. Sage counsel from King Solomon's writing. Over the years I have experienced the same frustrations and the excitement of family Christmases Steven describes. I am grateful for a Christian heritage that shaped my values, attitudes and outlooks, especially as I face the Christmas season, with its commercialism, celebrations, traditions, and ceremonies. Steven Estes brings together a combination of comfort, humor, and hope as he illustrates eternal truths through the inspired proverbs of Solomon, guiding the reader into the blessed truth of God's gift, His Son, our redeemer. In this pre-Christmas season I am facing new personal challenges. Reflecting on the heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking, stories included in A Better December has given me a new appreciation for the message of the season - the birth of Jesus, the promised savior.

  • 5
    Offers Biblical wisdom from Solomon as a cure for the holiday woes

    Posted by R. Hayton on 06 10 2019

    Don’t look now but December is right around the corner. This time of year can be as stressful and frantic as it is enjoyable and memorable. And as the pace of life quickens for everyone, the stress and panic seem to outweigh the peace and quiet. Steven Estes has offered us a short but poignant book to help us have "A Better December." He looks to the Biblical wisdom expressed by Solomon in Proverbs as a cure for the holiday woes. In just over 80 brief pages, Estes provides an extended meditation on a Christian vision for this time of year. With poetic verse (at times), and personal stories, Estes crafts a masterful tale that is disarming, fresh and inspiring. Each of the brief chapters reads like an essay or reflection and the takeaways are direct yet unscripted. The book is short, gift-sized, you could say. It would adorn a coffee table if larger. The simple yet alluring sketches from illustrator Sarah Bland Halulko make this small book a joy to look at and page through. It is the perfect gift book for the non-reader and reader alike. It points the interested to a few additional resources at the end, and encourages us all to find true life in Christ. The book would make for a great evangelistic aid or conversation starter and brings Solomon’s wisdom to bear on the contemporary world with unequaled ease. The writing style will make the book accessible to all and a joy to page through. For those looking for some inspirational reading this Christmas, look no further than this truly unique offering.

  • 5
    Get it now & prepare your heart for Christmas

    Posted by Kevin Sorensen on 06 10 2019

    I know I'm going to like a book when I read the introduction and smile, even chuckle a bit out loud when I'm all by myself. And it gets better from there. Estes has authored a delightful little book that uses the Proverbs of Solomon to help us think about Christmas. Yes, that's right: Christmas. He writes about gifts, contentment, children and perfectionism. The Proverbs speak into longings, disappointments and changes. I'm really quite taken by this short, well-illustrated book. It's probably one of those little coffee-table sized books, but it would make a great gift for Christmas. It's meditations can help prepare the heart to celebrate Jesus' birth, with such thoughts regarding contentment. All the while, Estes is masterfully working to get us to see Jesus. Because this is not only what Christmas is all about, it's what Proverbs is ultimately all about. The Women's Readers Group at Cornerstone EFC is going to be reading this in late November/early December. I look forward to hearing from them their thoughts. I know this, I can highly commend this book to you.

  • 4
    A unique approach

    Posted by L Loll on 06 10 2019

    A BETTER DECEMBER is a unique approach to the holiday crazies. Who'd ever think of applying the Book of Proverbs by King Solomon to Christmas? But Mr. Estes did and we will have A BETTER DECEMBER because of it. King Solomon touched on overspending--or staying within our budget, being a bit over-zealous in our greetings, contentment, surprises, childrens, disappointment and more. Full of poems, proverbs, and wisdom, this book is a great gift for an unbelieving friend or neighbor (gently pointing to the Savior) or for your own coffee table for visitors to thumb through. It might even brighten your own Christmas.

  • 5
    I’m glad I read it. This coming December is already starting to look better.

    Posted by Matt Mitchell on 06 10 2019

    I highly recommend "A Better December" for just about reader–Christian leaders, church members, and even folks who are not yet followers of Christ. As the book progresses, there is a narrative movement from Solomon to Jesus and the gospel is clearly and beautifully presented in an unique and disarming way. “What hath Proverbs to do with Christmas?” That was my initial question when I opened the pages of "A Better December: Proverbs to Brighten Christmas" by Steven Estes. The answer was surprising, “Quite a helpful lot!” In this little gift-sized book, Pastor Estes has taken the wisdom of Solomon in all of its brevity and sagacity and applied it directly to the blessings and perils of the holiday season. "A Better December" is easily my favorite book so far this year and the best book I’ve ever read about “doing Christmas” in faith. It’s More than a “Gift Book” "A Better December" is one of those short and squat “inspirational” hardbacks that people give to others at the holidays. But it’s not like any other gift book that I’ve ever seen. It is inspirational without being sentimental, warm and winsome without being sappy or fluffy. "A Better December" is full of deep, practical, biblical content presented in an imaginative, often wryly humorous, and engaging style. The best thing about "A Better December" is how Estes brilliantly smiths his words. There aren’t that many, but each and every word is carefully chosen for maximum rhetorical effect, making it a delightful read. Estes doesn’t just teach from the Proverbs, he writes like the Proverbs–concise, precise, incisive. I wouldn’t quite call his genre “poetry,” but it is definitely lyrical and sonorous. It’s a pleasure to read out loud, and it’s impossible to not be moved. Sarah Bland Lalulko has generously sprinkled her whimsical hand-drawn illustrations throughout the book, adding to the magical quality of the writing. As you can tell, I’m definitely a fan of this book. I’ve enjoyed Estes’ unique style of writing ever since he co-wrote "When God Weeps" with his friend Joni Eareckson Tada. I’ve listened to his sermons online, and I’ve been waiting for years for a new book. I never expected it to be about Christmas, but I’m glad that it is. Because I’m entranced by it, and because the book is so short, I don’t have many criticisms to offer of "A Better December." I can say that I don’t care for the cover image. It doesn’t encourage me to open the cover and see what’s inside, and I don’t think it properly conveys the content, but that may be just a matter of taste. Also a matter of taste, some readers may be turned off by Estes’ style. It is definitely not a book for someone who loves dense prose. A few times along the way, I took a wrong turn in my reading and didn’t understand where Estes was taking me, but a second, closer reading got me back on track. I often have that difficulty with more poetical type writing. In my opinion, it’s worth a few wrong turns to wisely weave in and out of the traffic of life like Estes does. "A Better December" may not be the book you thought you were going to read, but is probably the one that you need.

  • 5
    The best Christmas gift!

    Posted by Dave S on 06 10 2019

    I found this book to be interesting, personal and profound. What better way to connect folks with Jesus during Christmas than giving them a little book which does it so well?

  • 5
    If Christmas isn't easy for you, read this!

    Posted by Tim T on 06 10 2019

    Short book that did make me laugh multiple times, but more importantly, it takes a very comforting and honest approach to a season that can be more painful than joyful. Definitely came away with sense of hope. Highly recommend!

  • 5

    Posted by Sandy on 06 10 2019

    Excellent "short Book" as the author states right at the beginning. Really makes the meaning of the season stand out through his reflective passages. Also has excellent pencil drawings to enhance his thoughts. Bought some to give to others as gifts and they also loved it.

  • 5
    great book

    Posted by summer on 01 16 2019

    A BETTER DECEMBER 9781936768677 Religion / Christian Inspiration PROVERBS TO BRIGHTEN CHRISTMAS STEVEN ESTES ILLUSTRATED BY SARAH BLAND-HALULKO FORWAREWORD BY JONI EARECKSON TADA This books was vey unique, amazing writing, very inspiring with also had an insightful content about how to do life and innovative style with gives an arresting twist on our modern Decembers go extremely enthusiastic differently from Christmas yesteryear before. If you discover to this book you will find more a genuine guide to the purposeful and peaceful holiday we all long for with Proverbs that will give you a Christmas read from this book too. I highly recommend to everyone must to read this book. “ I received complimentary a copy of this book from I read with Audra for this review”.

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