A Tale of Christmas could have gone down a very hokey path, but Darryl Nyznyk brings Santa Claus to life as someone who is simply one of God’s many helpers.
Now that I’m a grown woman, I find that I’ve become a stout Traditionalist in all things relating to the Holidays. This surprises me because even though I’ve always loved the Holidays, I often used to make fun of my parents for needing to do our “holiday things” at specific times during the Holiday Season.
As a child, my mom eagerly awaited Thanksgiving so she could serve up a ginormous feast for our family, and then follow it up with hosting large, food-related events at our home every weekend in December. I have no idea how she did it all – she worked full-time as a nurse, and owned a restaurant for awhile – but none of these things ever slowed her down. She was, and still is, an amazing woman!
Part of “The Plan” includes decorating our home for Christmas over Thanksgiving weekend. My husband always has off from work, so it’s the perfect time to get the boxes out of the basement and send him out on the roof to hang our lights.
But this year, we forgoed “The Plan” and headed to Mexico instead to watch my husband compete in Ironman Cozumel. We had a wonderful time, and I gained a newfound respect for the man I married, but we both agree that we missed spending Thanksgiving with our families.
Amazingly, this was the first time in 35 years that I have ever missed a Thanksgiving celebration with my family, and it left me filling very unfulfilled. So while I sat on the plane feeling a bit blue, I pulled out my review copy of Mary’s Son, A Tale of Christmas, by Darryl Nyznyk. I wasn’t exactly in a cheerful holiday mood, but I had agreed to read the book, so I decided to kill some time while my munchkins were napping on the plane.
Imagine my surprise when I looked up a few pages later and said, “Holy Cow! I’ve read thirty pages already?” That’s how quickly you get thrown into the lives of Sarah Stone, a lonely, spoiled girl from the right side of town, and Jared Roberts, an angry, street-tough boy from the ghetto.
What I love most about Mary’s Son is that this novel could have gone down a horribly hokey path, but somehow – through the art of wonderful storytelling – Darryl Nyznyk manages to bring Santa Claus to life as a somewhat magical person who is simply one of God’s many helpers.
The real story, however, isn’t about Santa Claus, or the fact that he can appear as an ordinary man; he even looks dapper in a tux at one point. Instead, the real story is about Jesus, Mary and Joseph – and the miracle of Life. It’s about how one birth – and one extraordinary baby – could inspire others to do good, and be good, simply because of the love He gave them.
The story of Sarah and Jared is one we have read before, but it is compelling nevertheless, and when the two teens are finally whisked away to Bethlehem by a very frustrated Santa Claus, you are forced to believe the unimaginable with them. I was worried that it would get too ridiculous at this point, but as I read about Mary and Joseph’s struggle to find an inn – I, too, found myself worrying about Mary, and her unborn child.
It’s during this part of the novel that Darryl Nyznyk’s magic really shines. His storytelling was even able to make a grown Catholic woman stress out over whether or not Mary and Baby Jesus would be okay. I know that Jesus arrived safely. I know that Joseph found her an inn. I know that Mary lived to see her son. However, for a brief moment in time, I was able to worry about their fate right alongside Sarah and Jared. How wonderful!
The underlying theme of Mary’s Son, A Tale of Christmas is that we often forget to believe in the people that are most important to us, and without hope, it becomes impossible to see an alternative to our sadness. I am a huge believer in the power of Hope, and I constantly force myself to find the positive in every situation. It’s not always easy, but I truly believe that He presents us with all types of situations and it is up to us to figure out why, which brings me back to our trip to Cozumel.
The first few days leading up to the Ironman were incredibly stressful for all of us. My husband was nervous about the physical and mental endurance he would need to complete the race, and I was nervous about my husband being nervous. And, to make matters worse, I was feeling a bit resentful that he was focusing so much time on the race, pre-race. I knew I wasn’t being very nice, and I’m embarrassed to say I was having a bit of a pity party.
The day of the race was wonderful. My husband beat his goal of 13 hours and finished in 12:55:48! My brother and I managed to take some really terrific pictures of my husband during the race, and we were also able to take turns supporting him on the sidelines throughout the day. We were even able to force a nap upon the kids, so they could stay up late to see their father finish and become an Ironman! It was amazing!
Needless to say, the next day, we were all exhausted, so we just sat by the ocean and set up our GoPro camera for our dolphin encounter later on that afternoon. Unfortunately, I lost the memory card with all of the Ironman pictures on it while I was fiddling with my camera. The worst part was that I didn’t even know I dropped the card until we were at Chankanaab Park.
With tears in my eyes, I left my family and raced back to the beach where I searched the sand fruitlessly for over an hour. I felt horrible, and for the first time, I realized how petty I had behaved before the race. It broke my heart and all I wanted to do was find the card for my husband because the race was so important to him. With all of my selfishness placed before me, I wept – but instead of being left alone, God sent me some of his helpers. Three couples, and a little old Italian woman, came to my side and dug in the sand beside me. They moved chaise lounges and tables; they combed the sand with their toes and hands; and stayed with me until I lost all hope of finding it.
After thanking them, I went back to Chankanaab Park where I put on a brave face and swam with the dolphins with my kids. My husband knew I was heartbroken, and released me from my guilt – repeatedly, but I couldn’t let it go. The next morning, he told me he had a dream that we found the card in the sand and said we should comb the beach one more time – just in case.
With my hope restored, I carefully searched the sand on my hands and knees again, while my husband randomly started digging with his toes. All of the sudden, he called my name and with a huge grin set upon his face, he held up the little black card in his hand. I don’t remember exactly what happened next, but it involved screaming, crawling, kissing – and crying, again. (The best part? One of the couples from the day before witnessed it and came over to tell us how lucky we were!)
So it goes without saying, but God taught me a powerful lesson in Cozumel: Hope is important, and we must believe in those we love the most. If we focus on the petty, everyday matters in life, we will lose sight of what is truly important. Once I realized that I wanted nothing more than to make my husband happy, I was shown that with Hope, we can achieve great things. And sometimes, those things can merely be a little black memory card.
So like Sarah Stone and Jared Roberts, I, too, learned that If we Believe, and put others before ourselves, then all things are possible, and we will never be alone.
“This was what life really was…a gentle hug and a love so deep that God would send his only son to teach the world that there was only one true gift…the gift of oneself.”
If you would like to read Mary’s Son, A Tale of Christmas – you’re in luck. We have one copy of this fabulous Holiday book to give away to our readers.
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Thanks for reading,
Disclosure: I have been given a copy of Mary’s Son, A Tale of Christmas for the purpose of this review.0