SPRINGFIELD, MO. Each night, 7-year-old Zachary Schmidt gets one chapter closer to Christmas.
Zachary’s mom has been reading him a new book, “A Night with St. Nick,” by Springfield author Adam K. Nelson. The book was released this year and is available at bookstores for the holiday.
In fact, it was the Schmidts — Joseph and Jill — who inspired the story. The couple, who moved from Springfield to Plano, Texas, two years ago, had been struggling with how to introduce their young sons to Santa while keeping their focus on the story of the birth of Jesus.
“A Night with St. Nick” is a fanciful way of allowing Santa answer that question. It is the story of Jimmy, who was about the same age as Zachary when he saw Santa. But it is three years later, when he is a sophisticated 10-year-old, that Jimmy learns the magical secrets of Santa and the significance of Jesus.
“St. Nicholas was a godly man who was generous and caring, a person we should celebrate,” says Nelson, who will be doing book signings every weekend until Christmas.
When the Schmidts met Nelson and his wife, Diana, in 2006, they were relatively new Christians. Raised on a secular Christmas tradition, they began to ask other Christians how they “did Santa,” Jill explains.
The answers ranged from completely ignoring the commercialized holiday or bluntly telling their children that Santa does not exist to embracing the Santa legend.
“Adam said, ‘It’s the magic of Christmas. You can do both; they can co-exist,’” Jill recalls.
Nelson was struck by the conversation. He thought it was sad that any child should miss out on the Santa story. That afternoon he began writing “A Night with St. Nick” as a way to help Christian parents bring Santa into the Christian story of Jesus.
With a degree in English literature from Drury University and graduate work in English at Missouri State University, Nelson always loved writing.
A banker by day, “A Night with St. Nick” is his first children’s book and is the first of his own projects that he has completed, he admits.