On a hot summer night in 2000, Bret Nicholaus sat down at his computer, determined to write a good holiday story. There were two rules that Bret established before typing one letter: The book had to be a quick read (he knew how busy people were during the holidays) and it had to deliver a message that would stick with people long after they had read it.
For the main character, Bret decided to draw upon the personalities of three great men in his life that had passed away: his father and his two grandfathers. Bret took those three personalities and carefully blended them into the story's main character. For many parts of the story, Bret drew upon things that he remembered from his own family experiences, or those of other members of his extended family. In this sense, while the story is technically fiction, it contains some elements of truth as well.
As Bret thought more about his two grandfathers and his dad, he realized all of them had given him "gifts" that they had not realized they were giving him…and perhaps he had given them "gifts" that he did not realize he had given to them. Nicholaus concluded that this must be true in most families-that we all receive intangible gifts that touch our lives, and that we unwittingly give intangible gifts that greatly affect the lives of other family members. Putting a unique Christmas twist on that idea, it became the core theme of the book.
While the importance of family was developing as the main theme, Bret knew that something was missing. He felt the need to bring back to the forefront the REAL reason that we celebrate Christmas. And so, the theme of faith would be woven into the story-and through the loving nature of the grandfather the two themes of family and faith would meet in a logical and inspiring way.
Although most of the 20 books Bret has written have taken weeks or months to complete, this book was essentially finished in 24 hours. Bret admits that never before or since has a book flowed so naturally for him. "The themes of family and faith are extremely important to me, so I just wrote about the things I believe in," Nicholaus says.