Christmas Day and I have a confession to make. I never once believed in Santa Clause, or St Nick or Father Christmas, or any of those childhood supposed staples, and neither did my children. And I am a Christian and yes, I do celebrate Christmas. Big Time!
Am I nuts? You be the judge.
At Christmas time, we delight in finding the perfect gift for the other person. Then we wrap it so that the receiver does not know ahead of time what it is. The gift does not have to be expensive, just correct.
One year my youngest wanted a derby hat. That year all of his gifts, whether new socks, a new tee shirt or the hat, were wrapped like a hat, each one of them. I think he had seven hats that year, but only one was The Hat. The focus was always on the gift given not the gifts received. I still wake up on Christmas Day anticipating the look on someone’s face when they open my gift to them.
I guess my family’s tradition started two generations ago. My Grandfather owned a small pharmacy in a small town. It was late on Christmas Eve, he was about to close up, when a lady and a little girl about five came into the store. The woman needed a prescription filled for her very ill husband.
Those were the days when a pharmacist actually compounded the medicine right there in the drugstore. While Grandpa was working to do just that, the skinny little girl looked at the almost empty shelves where Grandpa displayed Christmas toys. Wistfully she whispered to her mother. The mother shook her head. They could not afford the medicine and the doll that the little girl pointed to. The child’s shoulders drooped.
When the medicine was done, Grandpa came around the counter and bent down to talk to the little girl.
“That doll is very lonely, and it is a little dirty too from all of the children that have touched it. Do you think you could take it home and clean it up and love it?”
The little girl stood straighter and taller. Her eyes shone. “Yes, Mister.”
Grandpa took that doll down off the shelf, and placed it in her hands.
The mother thanked Grandpa through her tears and left.
You see, I don’t need an artificial Santa. I had the real thing.
I taught for many years and listened as the children shared their lists for Santa with X- Boxes, and Wii’s and other expensive stuff. They were so excited about what they would get they could hardly sleep and definitely couldn’t study.
After Christmas a subdued crowd slunk into the classroom with a new box of 24 crayons or a new shirt. They were discouraged. They had been prepared to be treated like princes and princesses. Instead they were treated like stable hands. Too bad they didn’t see the manger.
Me, I don’t think I need a Santa. A manger is plenty for me. So today I party to celebrate the manger I visited last night, and the perfect gift within.