When I was a child we celebrated the birth of Christ at Christmas. We always had a visit from Santa Clause, too. It was a two-sided coin in our house.
My father and grandfather took me for a ride to see the beautiful decorations in Pasadena, California. Interestingly, when we arrived home, Santa had already been there. My mother and grandmother had seen him, but I always just missed him.
One year I heard him on the roof. Bells were tinkling and I just knew the sound came from bells hanging from Donner’s or Blitzen’s neck. My sister and I shared a room and I woke her to tell her about our visitor. She told me to “shut up and go back to sleep” because the bells were from something she’d been wearing that fell off her bed. Hmph!
However, the best story I heard came from my father. At around seven years old, my daughter decided there was no Santa. I mentioned it to my father and he sat her down to tell her why he knew there was a Santa Clause.
When he was a boy in Kansas, every year the family would take the buckboard through the snow to his grandparents’ house. The kids would sleep in the loft and await Santa’s visit. One particular year, while the other children fell asleep, my father was wide awake, tossing and turning.
He finally sat up and peeked out the window. The snow on the ground had a blue cast caused by the moon. It was so bright out for nighttime. The trees waved their branches slowly back and forth, but there was no sound of leaves rustling. The leaves had fallen off the trees earlier in the year, of course. He could see the wagon sitting beside the house, and he thought he heard the horses snort even though they were in the barn.
He watched as a rabbit ran across the snow, hoping there weren’t any critters lying in wait. The rabbit made it safely into the brush and my father let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.
That was when he heard a noise. It sounded like horses gently stomping their feet in the snow. He turned and glanced at the barn, but the doors were closed and there wasn’t a horse in sight. Slowly, very slowly, he raised his eyes toward the ceiling. The sound was coming from the rooftop. He knew with all his heart that Santa had arrived. He lowered his head to his pillow, closing his eyes tightly, hoping Santa would think he was asleep – and he waited. He didn’t hear a thing again until there was a whooshing sound from outside.
Jumping up he looked out the window and saw what looked like Santa in his sleigh with reindeer pulling it, just as it passed by the blue moon. He knew no one would believe him, but he also knew he’d been privileged that night to see Santa Clause going about his business.
Well, of course my daughter’s Grandpa wouldn’t make anything up, so she went to bed that night in anticipation of a visit from the Jolly Old Elf.
My dad and I talked later and he said he didn’t know what he actually saw that night, but whatever it was, it really looked like Santa and his reindeer.
I thought about Christmas and what it means to me before I wrote this, and then I remembered my favorite decoration. It’s a figurine of Santa Clause, hat in hand, kneeling and showing his love to the baby Jesus.
So when you tell your children about St. Nicolas, be sure you tell them about the real meaning of Christmas first. Tell them about the child who came to teach us, to love us, and to care for us.
Talk to them about caring for each other. In these difficult times, it’s warmed my heart to hear about people paying for other people’s layaway items without asking for recognition. They just wanted to help someone who was having a difficult time. I watch when people drop money in the bucket outside of stores, and as others pull names off a Christmas tree in a store to buy a gift for a child they don’t know. Toys for Tots? Awesome! Food delivered for Christmas dinner? Someone – many someones – helped out again.
Until next time, unpolitically correct Me wishes you a Very Merry Christmas, and please, remember the real reason for the season. He loves you, and so do I.
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