Hello, Dear Reader:
Being Christmas eve and all, it seemed like an appropriate topic for today. This ‘He Says, She Says…‘ post is going to be primarily a ‘He Says’, and it’s likely to be our last blog post of 2010, so I’ll add in a greeting from Marcia as well: However you celebrate it, we wish a joyous Holiday season to you and to those near and dear to your heart.
When you look like me, a lot of kids call you Santa Claus. I’m also very fortunate to have my own Mrs. Claus. Being called Santa may be partly because of the white hair and beard, but I still remember one day over 15 years ago when I was standing at an ATM outside (in July) wearing a headband, sunglasses, denim jacket and jeans, and a girl passing by called out, “Look mom, it’s Santa Claus!” “No, I don’t think so.” was the reply. “Yeah, it is!” Mom was thinking ‘Hells Angels’ was more likely, but the little girl could see through the disguise. I also remember the first time a little one, too young to talk, walked by with his dad in hand. As they walked away the little one began saying, “Ho Ho Ho. Ho Ho Ho…” His dad didn’t know what he was going on about, but we did.
However, this isn’t a post about how to look like Santa Claus, it’s about how to be Santa Claus, no matter what you look like. And that’s something anyone can do, no matter your faith or beliefs. The ‘father’ of the modern day Santa Claus was St. Nicholas, a Grecian man who lived in Lycia in the 4th century. Born to wealthy parents, they died when he was young and he was raised by his uncle. As he grew up St. Nick was a pious man, and very generous with what he had. He also encouraged his associates to be generous as well. There are a number of stories about his life; this is one of my favourites…
There are many variations to this story, but they all concern a man who had three daughters, but who did not have enough money for dowries so that they could be married. One night as he was passing the house, Nicholas threw a bag of gold through the window, enough for the eldest daughter to be married. A year later he repeated this gift, allowing the second daughter to be married. Another year passed, and this time the father was waiting to see who this mysterious benefactor was. However, rather than being seen, Nicholas climbed up on the roof and dropped the third bag of gold down the chimney. As it happened the youngest daughter was washing her stockings by the fireplace and the bag of gold fell into her stocking.
I must admit that when I related this story recently to a friend, she thought it would be better if the third daughter decided she didn’t need to be married, took the gold and started her own business, but that’s another story.
Christmas, it seems, has become all about presents. In fact it’s become so much about presents that we drive ourselves crazy worrying about them. We wonder what to buy for this or that person, whether we’ve spent enough or too much, whether we can buy two presents for person A and only one present for person B, and so on, and so on. We pack malls and stores and fight our way through crowds of people all trying to do the same thing. We do the same thing with Christmas cards, making lists of those who sent us cards last year and deciding to whom cards should be sent this year…
Now this isn’t all bad. For retailers, manufacturers, artisans, crafts people, even transport companies, Christmas sales can make or break an entire year. But if you’re scrambling around madly trying to sort it all out, those aren’t presents you’re buying: they’re obligations, and obligations aren’t gifts. I’ve been guilty of it myself, and having worked in the retail sector, I’ve been on the other side of the counter too. So, as Christmas comes and goes this year and we descend even further into the madness of Boxing Day Week Month sales, take a moment to ask yourself ‘why’ you’re doing this. Does it make you feel good? If it does, great! If you’re doing it out of a sense of obligation, then is it really worth it?
In a child’s eyes, Santa Claus is about more than presents. Santa Claus is about magic, hope, promise and excitement. Okay, and candy canes. Santa Claus represents giving, but giving of ourselves as much as giving of gifts. Santa Claus also represents sharing – sharing joy, love, freedom, commitment to family and friends, and in the end it doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Jew or Muslim, whether you follow Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Baha’i or Wiccan traditions or whether you’re a devout atheist, somewhere in what you believe there’s a message of ‘peace on earth’ and goodwill to everyone. Carry the spirit of this holiday season in your heart every day throughout the year, and you too can be Santa Claus.
P.S. Santa Claus delivers promise as much as expectation and a joyful ‘present’ moment; that CAN be delivered all around the world in one night. And how do the reindeer fly? Because they’ve dreamed that they can.
Gotta go… Christmas Eve is a busy night for me!