Think about the Christmas stories you and your family have enjoyed, perhaps for generations: “The Night Before Christmas,” “The Gift of the Magi,” as well as some in movie form (“It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and others). We know the plots, the dialog and, in the best of the tales, the moral of the story. 

This year I would like to suggest an addition to every family’s Christmas story list, a book written by Darryl Nyznyk, an attorney turned full-time author and parishioner of American Martyrs Church in Manhattan Beach, who understands the power of an enduring Christmas story. 

“Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas” (Cross Dove Publishing) is a modern-day saga involving two children, one an angry young boy from simple means, the other a spoiled girl who lives in a mansion on the hill. They meet up with a little old man who takes them back in time to witness the birth of Jesus. What they see and hear changes their lives. It is a contemporary narrative of the story of the birth of Christ and the enduring effect that birth has on the world.

The book has humble beginnings. In 1994 Nyznyk and his wife Loretta hosted a birthday party for one of their daughters who was turning eight. Her actual birthday is December 24 which meant that every year the celebration took place either a few days before or after the actual date. This year the party included a sleep-over which, as parents know, can be a daunting task with giggles far into the night. 

Looking to calm the girls down as they got cozy in their sleeping bags, Nyznyk asked the girls if they wanted to hear a story about some people who actually had seen Santa Claus. As the story unfolded in from the recesses of his memory, the girls were captivated. When one girl asked if the story was true, Nyznyk said he wasn’t sure but he knew some of the people in the story and when they told him what happened he believed them. 

Today he says it doesn’t matter if the story is true. Rather, he says, it is the “message of love that comes from the truth of the birth of Jesus Christ” that matters.

I was not prepared to be moved by this book, written with younger teenagers in mind. Yet, it brought me to tears more than once. It reaches that primal place that connects one to her roots --- in this case the roots of Christianity. Apparently, the young people who have read the book agree (see the book’s website,

Explaining why he wrote the book, Nyznyk says, “I want to spread Christ’s word, not in your face and not to get caught up in doctrine, but to highlight the two great commandments of loving neighbor and God. I wanted to put a mainstream book out there that kids and young people could read that was about Christ’s birth.”

He hopes his book gives people hope during the “chaos and insanity of Christmas.” He wants to remind people that they can have respite and feel peace and hope in Christ’s love. 

Nyznyk, who has donated thousands of books to schools and religious education programs in the Los Angeles area, wants to let people know that living the love Jesus taught will make a difference. He believes this message of love can counteract the divisiveness, frustration and anger rampant in society today. (As all good stories go these days, there will be a sequel soon meant to engage high school students and adults.)

And he is not suggesting that the book replace the actual reading of the Bible stories of the birth of Jesus. His family has a tradition of reading the Nativity story together aloud each Christmas Eve. Initially Nyznyk did the reading but over the years his wife and children joined in and last year his son-in-law asked if he could do the reading. The smile that crossed his face when he talked about this tradition and the desire of his son-in-law to participate fully said as much if not more than the words in any story.

Anne Hansen is a member of the Camarillo Catholic community. Her e-mail address is [email protected]

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