Released just in time for the 2019 holiday season, The Magic Christmas Ornament is a book about an enchanted Christmas Eve when three children gather around the fireplace to hear their father tell a story about his favorite Christmas ornament. After their parents go to bed, the children discover the true magic of the ornament as it sweeps them from their home and directly into Santa’s workshop.
While the story may be fiction, James Barbato and Victoria Barbato were inspired to write The Magic Christmas Ornament by a real holiday tradition James started with his own family nearly 25 years ago.
About The Magic Christmas Ornament Book
“We would gather around the Christmas tree after it was all decorated because that’s the fun—decorating the tree together is so much fun having the kids involved,” James said. “And then almost every night we’d sit under the tree and play Christmas music and look at the lights and then once in a while I’d tell a story.”
James learned the skill of storytelling from his father, Sylvester “Ziggy” Barbato. “He would always tell me stories as a little boy,” James explained. “I loved to hear his stories. I think some of them were from books that he may have read or that he changed into his own stories—he was just was a great storyteller. His stories made you believe…believe in yourself and imagine that anything could come true.”
James continued, “I remember my father telling me stories, not just at Christmastime, but other times. When somebody tells you stories as a little boy or a little girl, you start to realize that it’s fun to tell stories because people pay attention. Especially if you’re telling a story to a young child, you have their full attention and you can see the look in their eyes, their imagination working.
My father didn’t directly inspire the story itself, but he did inspire the Christmas spirit very much and the art of storytelling. This story was an original idea I had about an ornament that came directly from Santa’s own tree that I found in a mysterious old tree.”
Family Christmas Fun
James’ father grew up in an immigrant family with his parents and eight siblings. As you can imagine, money was tight and they didn’t have the money for toys or presents. Ziggy vowed that his children would always have a great Christmas. When Ziggy became a father, “he started what he called Santa’s Elves, which is tied to the story indirectly.
He used to make little fingerprints and footprints in the snow and he would leave a toy for us outside the front door and ring the doorbell, or he would hide something in the house and would tell us that even though Christmas isn’t here yet, Santa’s elves are around.
It really created a wonderment and excitement and it was almost better than Christmas—waiting for Christmas to come and wondering if the elves might show up today with a little present if you’ve been good .”
The Magic of Storytelling
Many years had passed since James told the story of The Christmas Magic Ornament to his children, who were now adults themselves, and they asked, “Do you remember that story about the magic ornament that was found in the tree hole?” They reminded James about the story and each of his children remembered a different part of the story.
“Somehow it made such an impression upon them that it became a part of their Christmas and their Christmas spirit that it stuck with them through the years. And it has come full circle. We just recently had our first grandchild. She’s five months old, so I can’t wait to tell her stories and read her The Magic Christmas Ornament, he said.
“So it’s a simple idea and that’s how the story came to be. Working with my daughter, Victoria, who was part of the storytelling at that time. We’ve taken the basic concept of the story, developed the story and enhanced it to make it an even better journey for the three kids. My daughter deserves a lot of credit because she’s a great writer and she made the story a complete magical adventure and journey with hidden themes throughout the book.”