Timothy Collins of Bushnell said he started writing Christmas stories for his son, Daniel around 15 years ago. Daniel is now a college student but Timothy kept working on the stories and they're now available in the book, Memories of Santa Claus: Louis Finnegan.
“It’s written at probably a third or fourth grade level so parents can read it to their children or grandparents can read it to their grandchildren,” Collins said.
“But I’ve also found a market for people who are in their 50s and 60s who love Christmas and love Christmas stories and are excited to have something new in the literature.”
He will sign copies of the book Saturday, December 3, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Nostalgia in downtown Macomb; and on Sunday, December 4, Noon – 4:00 p.m. at the Bushnell VFW Auxiliary craft show.
Collins said the book tells the escapades of Santa Claus and Louis Finnegan, a boy who grew up in a small town in northeastern Ohio in the 1920s. It follows Finnegan through the Great Depression and World War II. Most of the stories are set around Christmas time, though some take place at different times of the year.
While Collins was not around in the 1920s and the stories are fiction, he said some of them draw from his own memories of Christmas.
“There’s a story about Christmas tree forts. We’d go around the neighborhood and collect Christmas trees and put them in this vacant wooded area and we’d build these forts. There’s a chapter like that,” Collins said, adding another story draws from the time the family Christmas tree caught fire when his father was a boy.
Collins recently retired as Assistant Director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University. He said retirement provided him with enough free time to complete the compilation.
And his son Daniel, for whom Timothy initially created the stories, played a role in the final product.
“He proofread the book for me,” said Timothy Collins. “I think he has a good feel for the book because when we talk back and forth he asks how the book is doing and whether people are interested in it.”