Editor's note: We warmly welcome April Hartmann as she describes her plans to publish a children's book that will combine the Bible story of Jesus' birth with our modern idea of Santa Claus to help kids remember the true meaning of Christmas. Learn how you can help this book become a reality! --Barb

Christmas Crazies CatholicMom bannerIt was a Sunday in mid-December. The Kindergarteners in our faith formation class had spontaneously erupted into an “exuberant” version of “Jingle Bells.” Some redirecting followed, but it wasn’t long before all the chatter about Santa Claus resumed. What was it? The Christmas Crazies.

Kids do love Santa Claus. If only there was a way to harness that enthusiasm and bring the focus back to the birth of Christ. There is, if we go back to the beginning with Saint Nicholas and his commitment to serving God. I like the way Keri Wyatt Kent explained it in her article “Why Santa Belongs in Your Kids' Christmas" (Christianity Today, December 20, 2011). “Santa Claus embodies Christian values such as kindness, generosity, forgiveness—every child soon realizes that even if they have not been perfect all year, Santa comes through. Santa brings gifts to children both deserving and undeserving. While Santa is not a Christ figure—that must be clear—the Santa myth is not the problem. The problem is that we have let advertisers hijack Santa, turning Christmas into a retail event."

I’m offering a solution to that problem. I wrote and illustrated The Cure for the Christmas Crazies, a children's book that blends the legend of Santa Claus with a religious message to help kids remember the true meaning of Christmas. The story is filled with elves, gifts and merriment, but includes a strong spiritual lesson on every page.

I have two reasons for combining the story of the birth of Jesus with our modern ideas about Santa into one book. First, Santa Claus is so captivating that he keeps the attention of children as the lesson is shared. Second, Santa’s voice and beliefs leave a lasting message. When children encounter an image of Santa on TV, in another book, or in person, the religious message is remembered again and again.

In traditional children’s publishing, Santa stories and religious stories are two separate entities. Therefore, I plan to self-publish the book by seeking crowd-funding through the Kickstarter website during the month of June.  "Backers" receive the book for a $25 pledge, so it's more like pre-ordering, not just making a donation. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. If I don’t reach my minimum goal of $16,000 before July 1st, then I receive no money and supporters don’t receive books. If the goal is met within this 30-day window, the book will be printed and delivered in time for this Christmas season. Every penny of the funding will go toward the cost of printing, shipping to supporters, paying my editor, copyright registration, ISBN, fees and taxes. I’ve selected a reputable book printer here in the U.S.A., rather than sending the job overseas.

About a quarter of the books printed will go to backers. The rest will be in boxes in my basement. That’s where my real work begins—selling them through craft fairs, retailers, and a simple website. I don’t make a dime until I get the message out to a larger audience.

All my time and effort so far has been an investment of faith, hope and the support of a loving family.

It’s my hope that this book can elevate the legend of Saint Nicholas and inspire a new generation of children to keep Christ in Christmas. Through your support we can be celebrating Christmas in July—and throughout the year. Learn more about the story on my Kickstarter page.

About the author:

April Hartmann profile photo 6.15April Hartmann is a wife and mother of 3, enjoying life in the hills of western Pennsylvania. She is a professional illustrator with more than twenty years of experience in children’s publishing, graphic design, and marketing. When she's not at the drawing table, she’s usually behind the wheel, chauffeuring to soccer and gymnastics practices. She fills whatever time is left with volunteering at the elementary school and teaching 3rd grade religious education at her local parish.