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There’s been much to do about the recent poll which suggested that Santa needs a brand new brand.

Twenty-seven percent of those polled, in fact, suggested that there needs to be gender-neutral Santa in the mix — which may work well with the gender neutral moniker Kris Kringle.

As I tell my boys, we don’t really know much about Santa Claus, except that his real name is Nicholas; that he lived in Turkey in the 4th century; and today lives forever in Heaven.  No one has ever truly seen the venerated saint who today honors Jesus on Christmas Eve, interceding for people of goodwill by spreading joy and glad tidings too all.

All the stories we hear about the Santa Claus, I further explain, be it stories by Clement Clarke Moore, L. Frank Baum, or Rankin/Bass, are just that … stories — stories of who we think this secret gift-giver was and is.

One of the first true rebrandings of Santa Claus came in the 1600’s.

According to Christianity Today, Martin Luther replaced Saint Nicholas with the Christ Child, or, in German, Christkindl.  To commemorate this, Luther gave his children toys and honey cakes at Christmas.

And so, the tradition of rebranding Santa began … and continues on to this day.

The truth is that the image of Santa Claus has been changing ever since 4th century sailors from Italy brought the relics of a Middle Eastern saint named Nicholas back home with them to Europe.

Since, every culture has embraced a Yuletide gift-giver who looks and sounds like the people he — or she — visits.

Yes, SHE!

Throughout Italy, the home of Rome, arguably the epicenter of Christianity, the gift-giver to children on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany (Little Christmas or the 12th Day of Christmas) is a woman named Befana.

Ever suggest to a child that they were going to receive coal in their stocking for being bad?  Well, that comes straight from Befana’s playbook.

Sadly, if any Christmas gift-giver could use a 21st century rebranding, it may be Befana.

So, should Santa be rebranded?

Well, using centuries of tradition as a guide, every home should follow their heart during the holiday season, and introduce a spirit of service and giving into their homes with a gift-giver that not only matches their own culture, but also reflects the diversity of those bearing gifts on the very first Christmas.

This theme runs through my books “Kwanzaa Klaus” and “Klaus – The Gift-giver to All!



So, it seems to me, when it comes to the uproar about rebranding Santa Claus, there’s much to do about nothing.

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Kwanzaa KlausHail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL! To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.


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Corny (C) 2017 Corporation YOU

As a parent, you try, from-time-to-time, to take a quality photo of your kid or kids.

Maybe you’re planning a Christmas card or want to create a nice memory. Often, frustration brews — and sometimes, the mood is totally ruined.

Well, I want to tell you: Embrace the corny!

Since my computer was running slow, I went through my photo files to see what jpegs I could delete or place on a thumb-drive.  As I scrolled through the over 4000 photos I have taken over the years, the ones which brought a smile to my face and made me literally LOL, were the corny pix.

The cornier the photo, the broader my smile grew and the louder I laughed.

More than the pleasantly posed pictures, the corny pix brought me back to that moment in time. Even more so, these corny photos captured the personality of each of my boys and act as a time-capsule of memories.

So, this Christmas chill — and embrace the corny.


James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Kwanzaa KlausHail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL! To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Santa's Bag

My youngest son is, as we say in New York, “a piece of work” — or what my neighbor Norma Cornelia would lovingly call “a little scooch.”

Just the other day, we were strolling through the Mall, going from store to store, trying to find a nice white dress shirt and black pants for his brother’s upcoming school concert, and behold, there was Santa, in full regalia, posing for pictures with good little boys and girls.

“That’s not the real Santa,” my five-year-old growled, somewhat audibly.

I quickly hushed him as daggers flew at me from the eyes of the parents and grandparents of the little ones waiting on line for a photo-op with Santa.

“It’s not him,” he quietly said in self-defense, realizing that I was not happy with his actions. “He’s not the real Santa”.

It’s not that he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus.  He does.  He just believes in the real Santa Claus: Saint Nicholas.

Maybe, my wife and I are to blame.

We are raising our boys in a household which includes teaching them about the real reason behind the season.  

So, that includes traditions beyond a Christmas tree and outdoor lights, such as: setting up a nativity set; lighting the Advent wreath nightly; recognizing Hanukkah with a menorah, because we believe The Reason most likely celebrated the Festival of Lights in his youth; and learning about Nicholas, the 4th century Bishop of Myra, the saintly gift-giver now recognized almost universally as Santa Claus — which encompasses the lesson of giving to others.

I’m probably more to blame for my five-year-old’s misbehavior more so than my wife.  You see, I’m a storyteller — and who better than Jolly ole St. Nick to tell stories about?

In this global society, I had to get pretty creative to expand the image of Santa Claus beyond the jolly ole elf who first appeared in “The Night Before Christmas” on the pages of the Troy Sentinel in 1823.

Thanks to the internet and some thoughtful teachers, my boys know that the spirited gift-giver looks different in every culture.  They also discovered, after a poorly thought-out Christmas homily,  that in Italy, the Yuletide gift-giver is a woman!

So, over the years, my Santa Claus stories have been evolving as my children get older, and I have decided to compile some of these stories in an illustrated children’s book: Klaus: The Gift-giver to All!

Klaus - Gift-Giver (Cover)It’s a story about a father and child who explore the origin of Santa Claus and begin to unravel the saintly legend of Nicholas, the international Yuletide gift-giver. 

Soon, a well-guarded secret about the kindhearted figure is revealed: Nicholas’ appearance changes as he completes his nightly deliveries, depending on the region of the world he appears and reappears! 

It also doesn’t matter if your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas; or if your family, like so many, celebrates more than one holiday during the season. As long as one holds the spirit-of-giving in one’s heart, be it during Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, there’s a Klaus for you, earning him the title: THE GIFT-GIVER TO ALL!

Combine that story with tales of helpful elves and the immoral souls of a caring communion of saints in Heaven (of which Nicholas belongs), and you can see why my five-year-old wasn’t believing in the real presence of Santa Claus in a local suburban mall.

It’s not that I’m re-branding Santa, which seems to be a trend this holiday season.  I’m just revealing the true multicultural acceptance of the spirit of this saintly gift-giver.

As we were leaving the Mall, I decided to test my five-year-old’s innocence.

“So, Bean, would you like to take a picture with Santa?” I asked as we approach Santa and his helpers.

“Yes,” he beamed and quickly join the others on line to get is picture taken with Santa Claus.

Like I said.  He’s “a little scooch.”

You can now buy Klaus: The Gift-giver to All!  on Amazon or in Kindle Edition.

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Kwanzaa KlausHail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL! To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.






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Father and Son (Source: Unsplash | Pixabay)

We are all too familiar with The Parable of the Prodigal Son.

This moral lesson is known by many names: The Lost Son, Running Son, Loving Father, Lovesick Father. Every time a priest, pastor or minister reads Luke 15:11-32, the focus of the sermon is often us, the congregant faithful and metaphorical Prodigal Son.

he parable is about a father and two sons — even though we rarely hear much about the other son..  

Most who explore Luke’s Gospel (Luke 15:11-32) focus on the many ways of God’s forgiveness.  

The metaphors are clear.  We, the many, are the lost son and God is the father who welcomes us home into His open arms.

But much like I did in The brother of the Prodigal Son, I’d like to give another take on the timeless parable.

I’d like to put parents in the place of the father and make our children the two brothers. Finally, instead of making the father’s home symbolically God’s open arms, let’s keep it simple and make it literally “home”!

As parents, we must continue to work hard to establish and maintain a reverent household and raise faithful children.  That includes nightly prayers and giving “thanks” before means — even when you’re eating out. 

Every home should be a display of our love of Our Lord; a miniature Church

Besides a small silver crucifix in our living room, the walls of our dining room are subtly decorated with a Celtic cross on one side and the Cross of Saint Brigid on the other.   

Every room, in fact, has something that reflects our devotion to Jesus and His Church.

When in the car, we often put on Christian radio or have a CD from Lighthouse media and other outlets. Grace before meals, is a staple part of our diet — whether we’re at home or out.

We talk about Jesus, as if he is part of our family — because he is.  

I’m certain that the father in Luke’s Gospel did the same.  It anchored his one son.  However, temptation still drew his other son away. 

Likewise, our sons and daughters may one day stray and may unfortunately get lost no matter how hard we tried.   We even, sadly, may, be powerless, at the time, to protect them from this fall. 

Not to make like of a horrible situation, but heck … even God, the first parent, couldn’t prevent the first two children from falling for the lies of the serpent. 

But, if a strong enough foundation is built under them during their childhood, they will one day, be able to rebuilt their lives on that foundation.

And, like the prodigal son, they will be come home and be welcomed back with open arms.

As Thomas Aquinas so eloquently wrote:

For the first man sinned by seeking knowledge, as is plain from the words of the serpent, promising to man the knowledge of good and evil.  Hence it was fitting that by the Word of true knowledge man might be led back to God, having wandered from God through an inordinate thirst for knowledge.



James Henry is also the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, ‘TwasHail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL! To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Source: Cbdlq on Pixabay

“Not unless there was an Immaculate Conception….”

It’s a punchline I hear from time-to-time.  Most often the jokester is implying that something or someone was (or was not) “conceived without sex … like Jesus.”

I usually bite my lip and say nothing.  Often, I’ll wait until the joke-teller is alone; I’ll then try to quietly approach him or her and usually privately say something like this:

“I know you’re an intelligent person and wouldn’t want to tell someone something that isn’t true, but a virgin birth …. ummm … sorry … that’s not the Immaculate Conception.”

Few people are immuned from this dogmatic faux pas.

Religious affiliation doesn’t inoculate one from error.  Unfortunately, Catholics often have to be corrected on this infallible teaching in Catholicism.

Intelligence doesn’t spare one either.

After the 2016 Presidential election, Secretary Hillary Clinton joked, “The things that come out of some of these men’s mouths …  maybe you (these men) were dropped by immaculate conception.”

According to the article, her joke was received with “rousing applause from the audience.”

Reading this truly made me sad.

Not only did the audience, the news reporter, and the editorial team not know the true meaning of the Immaculate Conception, but the woman telling the joke — who is arguably the most prominent woman in the United States, if not the world — didn’t even know that the truth of the Immaculate Conception.

This isn’t a political statement against Mrs. Clinton.  I’m sure I can find plenty of theological faux pas on her opponent’s Twitter account.  The point of reference here is the Immaculate Conception.

The Immaculate Conception is not an it.  The Immaculate Conception is a who.  

The Immaculate Conception is actually a woman!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that this woman was “redeemed in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son” (CCC 492).

She was a woman full of grace, kecharitomeneA woman blessed above all woman.  A holy woman who became the Mother of God.

She was conceived just like you and me.  However, when she was conceived, she became and forever remained Kecharitomene.  Immaculate! 

So, it’s not Jesus who was conceived “immaculately”.  His mother, Mary, was!

Sorry for ruining future punchlines.

To learn more about the Immaculate Conception, go to Catholic Answers.  You may also like to the The Science of the Immaculate Conception.


James Dobkowski

James Henry is also the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, ‘TwasHail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL! To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639 0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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For me, nothing is more intriguing than the transformation of  Nicholas of Myra, a humble man of means who became a saint and then evolved into the legendary Santa Claus.

His legend was catapulted into iconic status after the Troy Sentinel published “A Night Before Christmas” in 1823, giving America its first real glimpse at a jolly old elf named St. Nick.

It’s hard to believe that Saint Nicholas’ status could grow any larger.

Now, almost two hundred years later, comes a story of a father and son who explored the saintly legend of Nicholas, the international Yuletide gift-giver, and discovered so much more.

You see, it doesn’t matter if your family celebrates Christmas; or even if your family, like so many others, celebrates more than one holiday during the season.  As long as one holds the spirit of giving in one’s heart, be it during Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, there’s a gift-giver for YOU!

Soon, the father/son team unveil another well-guarded secret about the kindhearted figure is revealed.

Saint Nicholas not only delivers gifts worldwide but his appearance magically changes – albeit unknowingly, so that he looks and sounds identical to the people of that particular culture.

So, as he completes his nightly deliveries, he changes from Kris Kringle to Sheng Dan Lau Ren to Papa Noel to Chief Hobbythacco and back, depending on the region of the world he appears and reappears, earning the title:  KLAUS: THE GIFT-GIVER TO ALL!


James Dobkowski

James Henry is also the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, ‘TwasHail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Women dominate the New Testament. Of the world’s major religions, the Christian scriptures appear to focus the most on women in the ministry of the faith.

So, it begs the question “Why doesn’t the world’s largest Christian denomination allow woman to become priest?”

To address that question and many other issues facing Christianity today, I began writing. At first, Hail Mary was supposed to be a television drama. I scripted a few episodes and a Series Bible that received much praise beyond the typical Hollywood Polish Pass.

However, the content was considered at odds with what the modern television audience. So, I decided to re-write these teleplays in book form and release each individually as I complete the transition from a script to a literary work written in prose.

Though Hail Mary explores controversial Church issues, the series is not an opinion piece. It’s a story – or a series of stories.

Each new book in this series will revolve around Sister Mary Joseph, a former cloistered Irish nun trying to adapt to American life after she becomes involved in solving the many life issues of an urban community – while secretly disguised as a priest.

All Mary Joseph has to guide her, in this role, is her love for the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In this series, many of the issues facing the Church today will be examined and explored with grace and dignity. And, to the best of my ability, resolutions will be based on ecumenically accepted Church teachings. However, I am not a theologian — or even theologically educated. I’m just a storyteller. Nothing more.

American contemporary Christian singer and songwriter Rich Mullins may have put it best when he said, “It’s so funny being a Christian musician. It always scares me when people think so highly of Christian music, Contemporary Christian music especially. Because I kinda go, I know a lot of us, and we don’t know jack about anything. Not that I don’t want you to buy our records and come to our concerts. I sure do. But you should come for entertainment. If you really want spiritual nourishment, you should go to church…you should read the Scriptures.”

Maybe the same applies to contemporary Christian fiction writers? I don’t know. But the quote most certainly applies to this author and the Hail Mary series.

Most importantly, Sister Mary Joseph’s call as a woman to impersonate a priest is NOT intended to be an outward condemnation of Church teachings. Instead, the true intent of Hail Mary is to entertain — and possibly guide the reader to inwardly examine one’s “self.”

Therein lies the central question of Hail Mary – the deep, spiritual question that dwells in every person: Are we truly answering God’s call?

In the first book: Hail Mary: Bread & Wine, Mary discovered a homeless parishioner, named Jesus, who took her on a modern day Passion of the Christ.   In the next book, Sister Mary Joseph’s American parish adventures continue.

Below, you will find the opening chapter of Book II.   In the industry, it’s called a teaser. I hope reading it is an enjoyable and positive experience – and you look forward to the release Hail Mary Volume 2: The Prayer of Saint Francis



Source: Pixabay.com | Pixel2013

Have you ever been in one of those situations where your heart races, your hands become clammy, your mouth feels like a sand box and your tongue feels like a paperweight? And somewhere, in the midst of it all, you begin to wonder, “How did I get here?”

Sister Mary Joseph was having one of those moments.

Her hands, positioned for prayer, dripped with sweat and her dried mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton as her focus leaped from one Church image to another; from the Lord, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to all the Saints.

Guilt-ridden, she reached up and tugged on the Roman collar around her neck then began to pray, “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

If this was a normal day, she would’ve been praying silently or alone and the Amen that followed would’ve been soft, demure and her own. But today was no normal day. And Sister Mary was not praying silently, nor was she alone.

She was center stage – center altar to be exact – pretending to be a Catholic priest at the eight am daily Mass at Brooklyn’s century-old St. Vincent Ferrier parish

“Amen,” responded the few Collect in attendance.

The People of God, gathered for their daily nourishment of the Eucharist, were unaware that the celebrant before them was really Sister Mary Joseph.

The reasons why the Irish-brogued Sister of the Poor Claires had taken on role of an impostor priest were many. However, defiance was not one of them.

But for now, she was committed to carrying out this mission – even at the cost of losing her soul.

“The grace and the … The grace and — of … of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship — I mean: the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all,” the impostor priest fumbled through the Entrance Song.  Confused, the congregation respectfully stood in silence as they exchanged awkward glances.

“Oh brother,” Sister Mary quietly lamented.

Later on, Father Tonna and Sister Mary Joseph, still in her public guise as Father Joseph, exited the old Black Forest Bakery.  When the bakery first opened in 1878, it was one of many Mom & Pop stores owned by German immigrants that speckled this Brooklyn neighborhood one hundred plus years ago.

Today, this century old bakery and Otto’s Deli, two shops down, are all that remains of the original immigrant community that settled here at the end of the 19th century.

These businesses are kept alive, mainly, from nostalgic online orders, by those whose families moved out of the city long ago, and from in-store purchases by new immigrants who have developed a fondness for things like Lebkuchen.

Like many who grew up in this neighborhood, Tonna was raised on the bakery’s German delights. Going to the Black Forest Bakery on Sunday was as much a part of their family ritual as going to the nine AM Mass.   Hard rolls, crumb cakes, and Danishes from the Black Forest Bakery were as much a part of the Sunday breakfast as where eggs, bacon and home fries.

With every visit, Peter fondly recalled waiting in a long line with fellow parishioners and feasting on free sugar cookies as mom and dad ordered – a tradition that sadly soon ended after Vatican II changed the pre-Mass fast from midnight to Mass to just one hour before receiving.

“You had to see me. It was horrible,” Mary Joseph moaned as she exited the Black Forest Bakery with Tonna, who held their order of German delights in a 1 lb. white paper bag.

“It couldn’t’ve been that bad,” Tonna contended, trying to be supportive.
“It was worse,” the Irish-brogue priest impostor insisted.
“Here!” Tonna added as he started to unveil their purchase. “This should cheer you up.”
“They’re called Bear Paws?” Father Joseph asked.
“Bear Claws,” Tonna pointed out. “See the claws. Take a bite.”

Ignoring Tonna’s correction, Mary Joseph dug right into the heal of the Bear Claws.

“Mmmmm,” she groaned with a mouthful of pastry. “That’s –”

Suddenly, she stopped as her eyes locked on a mystical vision in the distance. This was the same vision that had been haunting Mary Joseph since that prayerful morning in the Irish Hills.

“What? You don’t like it?” Tonna innocently questioned, not being able to see the angelic apparition.

Now locked in a trance, like one of the visionaries of Kibeho, Mary Joseph advanced forward and unquestioningly followed this mystic image that now guided her forward.

“What the…?” Tonna added, seemingly at a loss of words – or at least kind words. Tonna followed Mary Joseph and finally caught up with her just as the pair turned a corner.

Now awakened from her trance, Mary Joseph peered down the street, in search of the angelic image – but was it gone.

“What was it?” Tonna asked with concern.
“I thought I saw her again,” Mary added.

As they fixedly stared at each other in question, a car suspiciously edged passed the two, slowing as it neared the house across from where they stood.

Only seconds passed before several glass bottles with burning cloth wicks were tossed from the car at the Brooklyn home.  Time appeared to slow as the homemade bombs took flight.

Finally, the bottles landed and violently shattered, spreading terror and flames as the car spun away — but not before Father Tonna caught a glimpse of the teenage driver.

“Luisbi?” he silently sighed.

A sudden scream diverted Tonna’s attention and the pace of time returned to normal for the Brooklyn Diocese priest. In a flash, his old fire-fighting instincts kicked in and the former New York City firefighter rushed forward in to action.

Without questioning, he unraveled a garden hose, and then ordered several neighbors to do the same. As the neighbors scurried to comply, Peter handed Father Joseph the nozzle and pointed to where he wanted his co-cleric to direct the stream of water.

What happened next still has people talking to this very day…

Unshaken, Peter ran into the home as the neighbors surrounded the front of the house and tried to drown the flames, as best as they could.

“Look!” a neighbor shouted. “I see four men walking around in the fire … and the fourth looks like –”
“Peter!” Mary cried at the sight of her new found friend exiting the fiery furnace with a frightened family, huddled under the protection of a wet blanket.

Upon Peter’s command, the family sped forward together, away from the blaze, escaping the flames as the courageous cleric fell to his knees from exhaustion.

Seeing Peter fall, Mary broke the line and ran forward to aside.

“Are you okay, Peter?” she asked once she arrived at Tonna’s side.
“That was so much easier with an air mask,” he added as he gasped for air and coughed uncontrollably. “What an adrenaline rush. Man, I miss that!”

Then, without warning, her Irish rose within Sister Mary Joseph and she socked the winded priest in the forearm.
“What where you thinking!” Mary Joseph growled.
Peter grabbed his left arm and laughed, all the while gasping for air. “By the way, you have a pretty good punch.”

Now far from the flames, the family stepped out from under the protection of the water-soaked blanket as the neighbors crowded around them with concern.

To their amazement the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their clothes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

In worship, the family turned East and gave praise.

“Allah Akbar!”


James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul and the new book series Hail Mary. For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to write — and teach.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.



Hail Mary: Prayer of Saint Francis.  Copyright © 2017 by James Henry Dobkowski. All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce this book or portions thereof, in any form.

Book design by James Henry Dobkowski.  Cover Photo: Silhouetted of a Nun is used by the permission of the photographer Kjeld Friis. © Kjeld Friis. See more by going to KjeldFriis.dk.


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