"The Key to Christmas" Book Reviews and Testimonials

In October of 2007, one of the parents at St. Irenaeus School in Oakmont PA presented the Second Grade Teacher with a wonderful, inspirational book titled: THE KEY TO CHRISTMAS, by author, Rod Hess. Mrs. Corbett, an avid lover of children's books, personally read the book, fell in love with it and had a wonderful idea.

She approached the Principal about having an assembly at which the story could be read aloud, and at the end of the story each student would receive an actual "KEY" to Christmas! The idea became a reality and in preparation for this event, our generous maintenance man, Henry, obtained enough shiny gold keys to give to each student.

Mrs. Corbett, at the same time, was dealing with her mother's battle with cancer and soon another great idea surfaced. To help her mother through the lonely days of facing chemo treatments, Mrs. Corbett would sit with her mother, "Mitzi", in the Alle-Kiski hospital and prepare the 120 keys by tying Christmas ribbons to each one. "Mitzi" was delighted to help and it filled her with joy to know that each student would receive these in time for Christmas. Her illness prevented her from attending the actual reading of the story that her daughter Paula was to do very soon.

April 4, 2008

Mr. Rod Hess
424 Sixth Street
Oakmont, PA 15139

Dear Mr. Hess:

I have to honestly say that I have had a hard time writing this letter. I have made numerous attempts, but every time I get choked up had to stop and collect my thoughts. When I was introduced to your book in November of 2007, The Key To Christmas, my husband and I struggled for three months how to explain to our five-year-old son that Christmas was not all about getting gifts from others, and Santa bringing him every toy he asked for. Our family attends church and our son clearly understands Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, but as most 5-year-olds, they also know Santa arrives on Christmas morning with toys. My husband and I prayed for the right time and message to help our son really “get it”- -this chapter was not in our parenting book (smile). My husband and I read your book and realized our prayer had been answered.

When our son turned two years old we decided to start a family tradition of cutting down our Christmas tree. We go to a Christmas tree farm, we ride the train, hayride, and see Santa, our son picks out the tree, and he and his dad cut it down together while I take all the photos. We thought this would be the perfect time to incorporate your book The Key To Christmas as part of our tradition.

Once we got the tree home my husband started putting on the lights (his job) while my son and I sorted all the tree ornaments (our job). When my son was finished pulling out all the ornaments he looked at me with his sad eyes and said “But, but, we forgot to go to the store and get me a new ornament” (another tradition). I told him we would go the next day, and that I wanted to read him a story while daddy finished putting the lights on the tree. My son jumped in my lap and I began to read your book. At first, he was a little restless, but as soon as I got to the second page he had his eyes glued to the book, his ears opened, and listening with curiosity building.

When I finished reading the book he said “Wow that was a good book.” When he opened the box that contained the key ornament he was ecstatic. He jumped up and down yelling “I got the key, I got the key, look daddy, I got the Christmas key ornament. I don’t have to go to the store to get an ornament, I got the key.” My husband and I were thrilled he was so excited but questioned him about what he had learned about the book. He told us “I can’t get all the toys because there are other boys and girls who don’t have any. I need to share and give.” My husband and I praised him for what he had learned, and our son showed off his book and ornament to everyone who came into our house until the day of Christmas. He hung his ornament at the bottom center of the tree where the light beamed off the ornament (beautiful when the tree lights were on at night).

On Christmas morning our son woke the whole family up to let us know Santa came and there were gifts under the tree. My parents came walking into the living room with a video camera in hand, letting us know that was their gift to us (my husband and I) so we could have recorded memories. After everyone was finished opening gifts I was still recording my son because he immediately started lining up all his gifts in a row. When I asked what he was doing he said “I am picking out the toys I am going to give to a little boy, because The Key To Christmas is the gift of giving.” All of our mouths dropped and asked “What did you just say,” and he told us again. My husband had to take over the video camera because I started crying. My son was worried about me crying, and I told him they were happy tears because he just gave Daddy and me the best Christmas gift ever. He did not understand what I was talking about, but I was not going to explain because I knew he “got it.” He got the message we had been trying to relay to him.

My son kept asking when he was going to get to take a little boy his new gifts. We took him the following day to a local hospital so he could share his gift of giving.

Mr. Hess, I can not tell you how grateful I am for your inspirational book. This is just the beginning of a long journey for you and your family. You have the gift and we look forward to hearing about future readings. Because of you and your book The Key To Christmas, my husband and I had the best gift ever–and were able to capture our gift on video. Thank you.

Aaron and Katherine Burns
Cypress, Texas

As a mother of a five year old, I highly recommend The “Key” to Christmas: A Timeless Story for All Time to every parent. My son enjoys reading the book not only at Christmas time but, throughout the year. It helps me to teach him the true meaning of the holidays and selflessness.

Unfortunately, today’s society is too accepting of the “ITS ALL ABOUT ME” philosophy and our children are bombarded by advertising that reinforces that school of thought. As parents, we need to extra vigilant and focus on the core values. The “Key” to Christmas does that in a touching story that children can relate to. Also, keeping the key visible throughout the year reminds the child to think of others not just themselves. Whenever my son needs a reminder, I direct his attention to the key and ask, “do you remember?” He does, of course, and changes his train of thought and does the right thing no matter how hard it may seem.

Every child should be read this story and maybe we can bring back the core values that are missing in our society.

What a delightful way to deliver such an important developmental lesson to our children. The book happens to be a gift . . . to parents . . . of precious time spent with their gifts . . . from God . . . their children. The novel idea of the key starts a family tradition, another gift ,of placement on the tree as well as a daily reminder throughout the year of what our Christian mission in life is . . . to give our time, talent or treasure to one another. I’m giving both of my books to the Principal of our school

Every year we in the area of Religious Education are always looking for some thing new and something different with a twist to add some magic spark to the Christmas Season. The book “The Key to Christmas” does just that. The nature of the book with its’ underlying message has the charm and warmth of the season for which the child in all of us comes alive. As an added bonus, supplying each child a “Key” to hang on the tree will bring back memories year after year as the tree comes to life. Rod Hess, the author, has again captured the love of the season providing us the ability to spread it to the children in our care.

Dear Rod,
I have just finished reading “The Key to Christmas.” As a Sunday school teacher, I was quite impressed by the message it told. In fact, I may read it to the 7th and 8th grade class I teach for our Christmas study. With teary eyes, I finished reading the book and felt a smiling heart within my body. Even Scrooge would have been softened by the message it presents. What a wonderful, refreshing story to brighten anyone’s Christmas Season, especially a young child. I have not been this affected by something that I have read in a long time. Keep up the “good works.”

I had the opportunity to pre-view “The Key to Christmas” this past summer. After reading it, I was very impressed and ordered two copies. One is for my grandson who is in the second grade at a Catholic school. I am scheduled to be a “mystery reader” in his class next month, and after I read “The Key to Christmas” to them, I plan to donate the second copy to the teacher for use with other classes. In today’s world, kids need to hear the powerful message taught in this simple book.

Mr. Hess,
I am on staff with the youth ministry at our church. I actually got the chills from excitement as I read through your book and thought about how I could use it with our kids. I can’t wait to use it. It’s a great message that every child should hear.

“Rod your imaginative and heart warming story will remind adults as well as teach children about the true meaning of the Christmas season and that we should keep it in our hearts and minds all through the year. This book is destined to become a classic.”