I did grow up believing in Santa Claus after a fashion. My sister and I had pictures taken with him at the mall several times. However, by the time I was 10 I was almost certain that it was dad who ate the milk and cookies because they were often replaced with this special edition Oreo Christmas tins which coincidentally were sold at the grocery store dad worked for at the time. My parents have always stressed that giving of yourself, whether it be through a thoughtful gift or a caring action is the most important thing about the holidays.
I remember one Christmas when a neighbor across the street from us got burglarized the night after they had finished all of their shopping. The burglar took all of the presents, every last one of them. With less than a week before Christmas and all of their gift budget gone there wasn’t time or money to replace anything. Their four-year-old son would not have Christmas presents that year.
Unbeknownst to our friend my dad started to make phone calls and several mutual friends of ours stepped up in an effort to thwart the Grinch. The day before Christmas Eve our neighbor called. Someone had broken into their house but this time had left stuff… Wrapped presents of all things! Dad hung up the phone with a suspiciously satisfied smile.
When I was old enough to realize the truth about Santa and saving the Greens Christmas that year I wasn’t upset. I didn’t feel cheated, wronged, or lied to. I grew up knowing the historical background and so it was obvious to me that St. Nicholas had died a long time before I was born and when I pointed out this logic to my friends they told me something I will never forget. This spirit of Santa Claus has been around far longer than St. Nicholas or even Christianity. Santa Claus is the visual representation of the spirit of giving. More accurately, the spirit of giving without expectation, for no other reason than to be kind and thoughtful. I know what I will do my children if and when they ask about Santa. A gift does not have to be a physical material they and Christmas is not only for December. Anything that is given to or done for another person with a glad heart is a gift given in the spirit of Santa Claus and because you can choose to give such a gift at any time of the year every day had the potential to be Christmas for someone.