The Beginning of an Adventure, Part 1

By: HM Gray


Preschool-aged Callum keeping an eye out for the red bathtub!

My younger son, Callum, would yell this out twice a day on our way to and from his preschool. We’d drive past a local bathroom supply and remodel store en route to his language immersion preschool, and, in the showroom window facing the road, sat a beautiful, red, clawfoot bathtub. It was a splash of color in a sea of drab grays, surrounded by concrete and asphalt, saturating the suburban landscape. Callum shouted out his enthusiasm for this tub every school day for a couple of years and it was a highlight for whomever was his chauffeur du jour. In December of 2015, I was having a conversation with my sister, Kristin, who also regularly transported Cal to and from preschool, and we were laughing at how cute this habit had become. I wondered aloud, “who would buy that bathtub?” We agreed that it was beautiful but required very specific taste. Not everyone would want a bright red bathtub in their bathroom. Then it hit me. “I know exactly who would own that bathtub!”

Santa Claus!

And so it began. This was shortly after my 40th birthday and while I was focused on professional growth and enjoyed many of the challenges my job offered, I felt incomplete. Combined with other commitments, my daily routine left little time for my husband and two young sons let alone any creative time for myself. I had a nagging feeling that I should be working towards a change. And that change was rooted in a lifetime of unrequited passion for reading and writing.

Showroom model red bathtub

As a child, my favorite pastime was writing and creating books. I spent countless hours drafting stories and coloring pictures to accompany them. I’d scour the house for materials to use to assemble my creations – staples, cardboard, yarn, glue, you name it! My parents loved and encouraged my passion largely because it kept me quiet and occupied. I was a very self-sufficient and low-maintenance kid! As I got older, I continued to write and my skills carried me through college and graduate school. Early on in my business development career, I worked as a senior proposal writer and I spent a number of years focused on the technical writing aspects of winning complex bids for large government contractors. As I grew in my profession, I spent less time writing – both personally and professionally. Making time to re-focus myself as a writer began to fuel an urgency that I could not ignore. Surrounded by children’s books, the transition to writing them became part of my new growth plan.

I genuinely love children’s books and one of the perks of being a parent is that I have been introduced to numerous new amazing stories and I have also reconnected with many magical worlds and moments from my youth. Our house is bursting with books – we are always on the lookout for new titles to pick up! Libraries, bookstores, online book sellers – we frequent them all! When I decided to start writing Santa’s Red Bathtub in early 2016, I thought the process would be easy. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It took a lot more time, focus, and perseverance than I initially estimated. In fact, by the end of 2017, it looked like the book was going to be permanently shelved. The story was written but I had hit a dead end with the illustrations. I felt defeated. Would this book ever happen?