Local Women Create Kids’ Book That Stresses The Gift Of Giving

By Kathleen Bolus
The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

Some children spend months perfectly crafting their Christmas lists to Santa. Some mail them to the North Pole. Others use apps to record videos of their lists for Santa.

But while many children were dreaming up wishes for Santa, two sisters from the Midvalley looked at it from a different perspective: What does Santa want for Christmas?

Rebecca Petrini and Stephanie Machiesky co-created the children’s book “Santa Has A Wish” to help children embrace a deeper meaning of the holiday season.

Inside the hardcover book are 32 rhyming verses Ms. Petrini wrote, complete with colorful pictures of Santa and a group of cute elf helpers. It tells the story of how Santa created his wish list.

It begins with Father Christmas going through his naughty-and-nice list, Ms. Petrini said. He gets to thinking that “no one is just all naughty, and even the nice kids do something once in a while,” she said.

Then Santa has an “epiphany,” she said.

“He creates a wish list of what he wants for all his children,” she said, and also creates a new toy — the Santa Sack.

Inside the plush red velvet bag that comes with the book are wishes on parchment paper. In the 24 days leading up to Christmas, Santa asks that each day the children pick out a wish from the bag and complete a task for him.

The wishes, centered on love, kindness, charity, giving, sharing and joy, include “being extra kind, holding the door and saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’?” Ms. Petrini said.

Some wishes have icons prompting the children and parents to log on to the book’s website,, to find worksheets and printouts to supplement the book. There is also a blog where the children can update Santa on their good deeds.

Illustrated by Mid Valley High School graduate and Maryland Institute College of Arts student Natasha Tara Petrovic, the book was self-published and printed through Print Ninja near the end of the summer.

The sisters connected with Ms. Petrovi through the art teachers at Mid Valley, where Ms. Petrini is a language arts teacher.

Since then, Ms. Petrini and Ms. Machiesky, both of Archbald, have been hitting the craft-fair circuit, attending events such as Scranton’s Holiday on the Square and the Buy Local Holiday Marketplace at the Scranton Cultural Center. And it’s at these events that Ms. Petrini said parents and teachers purchase their book.

“We’ve gotten some great feedback from parents,” said Ms. Petrini.

They’ve heard stories of children who, first thing in the morning, ask their parents what Santa’s wish is. A few copies were even mailed to Europe, said Mr. Petrini.

The sisters, who read the story to their own children, also recently visited the Rainbow Connection Preschool in Archbald for a special reading.

Their Christmas message doesn’t stop online or in print. The book comes with a holiday song that Ms. Petrini and her partner, Chris Harding, along with Ian Ritter, wrote and performed.

“We are dreaming big,” said Ms. Petrini. “We can see this becoming a tradition that people can enjoy everywhere.”

The book, sack and song can be purchased through the website or on Facebook (Santa Has a Wish), from the Library Express in the Mall at Steamtown in Scranton, or at Artisan’s Square Gift Shop at 222 Wyoming Ave.

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