Christmas is for Giving

Illustrated by Frances Espanol

On a cold and snowy Christmas Eve, a man sits down on the couch to read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” to his three grandchildren. For many families, this story is a tradition, but the man’s grandchildren are about to learn of a family Christmas tradition that is even more important.

The innocent question of “What do you want for Christmas” from the man’s grandson brings about an unexpected reply. At his request, the man’s presents have included letters from his own children informing him of ways they have helped others through the holidays. And it isn’t long before the grandchildren learn that they, too, have already helped others as well.

Former Defiance resident Bill Steffan, now a resident of Goodyear, Ariz., has written the children’s book “Christmas is for Giving,” which illustrates how his own family has helped to give him Christmas gifts by giving to others. The book is autobiographical, with Steffan’s three grandchildren, Ben, Sophie and Sydney, being part of the story (as well as part of the book’s dedication).

The genesis for this book happened as far back as 1970, when Steffan was sent to Vietnam with the U.S. Marines. In Vietnam, he was assigned to a combined action platoon, which provides security and humanitarian services to those in need. Steffan’s platoon helped with such things as medical care and building wells.

After Steffan’s discharge, he eventually became a CPA and has continued to help others via charitable organizations, including the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. All profits from the book will be donated to Toys for Tots.

Every year, he still gets letters from his family illustrating how they have helped others over Christmas, which results in another unusual family tradition. “These letters have become not only his gift,” said a press release about the author and the book, “but the entire family waits for him to read the letters out loud on Christmas morning, and they try to get the old Marine to cry.”

It is Steffan’s hope that the book will inspire others to ask their families to give to others at Christmas.

The book is available for purchase from Barnes and Noble, eBay, Amazon, and at http://www.christmas-is-for-giving.com. An order to the website will cost $10 plus $3 for shipping. Half of every $10 received at Steffan’s website will go toward Toys for Tots.

The website includes a few of the letters Steffan himself has received detailing the efforts of individuals to give toward others during the Christmas season. Steffan encourages people to share their letters with him at bill@christmas-is-for-giving.com.

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