Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Secret of Santa

From as far back as most children can remember, they look forward to Santa coming on Christmas.  Come December, they anxiously wait in long lines at the mall for their turn to sit on Santa’s lap and pose for a picture.  For the few brief moments they have his undivided attention, they hastily tell him what presents they desperately want for Christmas. 

Each year as the holidays grow close, parents warn “You better be good or you’ll end up on the naughty list and Santa won’t bring you anything!”

Children watch endless movies about Santa’s family, his elves, his workshop, and his annual mission to deliver presents to all of the children in the world in one night.

On the morning of December 25th they wake up and rush to see what has magically appeared under their Christmas tree.  Lo and behold, there are presents!  Wonderfully and brightly wrapped presents!

So basically, children have met him, had a conversation with him, curtail their behavior because of him, learn all about his life from multiple sources and the ultimate proof…get actual physical presents from him!! 

Yet despite all of this evidence, at some point every child asks “Mom, Dad - Is Santa real??”  The one detail that never seems to sit well with them is the feasibility of one person travelling all around the world stopping at each house in one night.  How does he do it?  Heck, it takes 5 hours just to fly from New York to LA, and that is in a 747!

Okay, so once the kids venture into the realm of physics, the gig as they knew is it pretty well up.  The thing is, most parents surrender the whole spirit if Christmas concept at that point.  No, Santa doesn’t fly in a sleigh fueled by eight tiny reindeer and yes, Mommy bought that toy for you at Toys R Us and wrapped it after you went to sleep at night.  Now go to bed!

Now waaaiiiittt a minute.  Isn’t there really a better truth to tell?  I submit to you that there absolutely is: the story of Saint Nicholas.  Saint Nicholas is the Patron Saint of Children.  Back in the 4th century, he would secretly give gifts to people – not the store-bought, wrapped kind – more like coins in a person’s shoes if the person left them out that night.   The whole secret gift giving thing caught on and parents started to do it for their children.  Fast forward 17 centuries and people are still giving gifts to their kids and others anonymously.  Is Saint Nicholas dead and buried in Italy?  Yes.  But is the spirit of giving alive and well?  Absolutely!

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