Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Santa, the Saint of the Season

Like all parents in Christendom, we play Santa Claus to our kids, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, and all other relatives within the inner family circle. We even go to great lengths to conceal our gifts from the recipients and deceive young children that Santa Claus is real. Does the generous act of giving and intent to make our loved ones happy, make us a Saint?

Not really. But seeing the joy in the eyes of the receivers of our presents provides a warmth and loving experience shared within the circle; that would build stronger emotional and personal bonds made memorable by the fullness of each moment. Memories that would be carried on to periods of difficulty for us to recall, and prod us to keep going. To move us to continue hoping. To strengthen our resolve that love remains steadfast.

Being Santa is not only about generosity, but it symbolizes love, hope, and understanding. The Santa icon we have all been familiar with is largely based on Saint Nicholas, born in 280 AD in what is referred to as modern day Turkey. He is credited with giving away all his wealth and was widely known to help the underprivileged. He was tagged as the protector of sailors and children.

The name Santa Claus evolved from St. Nicholas' Dutch nickname Sinter Klaas, a shortened name for Sint Nikolaas. In 1809, Washington Irving popularized stories of Sinter Klaas and referred to him as the patron saint of New York in his book The History of New York. Other figures of gift givers appeared like Kris Kringle or Christkind, meaning Christ Child in Switzerland and Germany. Jultomtem, in Scandinavia, was a jolly elf thought to deliver gifts on a sleigh drawn by goats. Father Christmas in England was responsible for delivering holiday treats to fill children's stockings, while Pere Noel in France was believed to be the one filling children's shoes with Christmas goodies. In Russia, Babouschka, an elderly woman who is believed to have deliberately given the 3 wise men the wrong directions to Bethlehem, became remorseful but couldn't locate the men to undo the damage. She continues to give gifts to children in the hope that one of them is the Baby Jesus. La Befana, in Italy, is a kindly witch who flies in a broomstick to chimneys in Italian homes to give toys to lucky children.

There is a model for everyone. So, wherever you are in the world, Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones. Be happy, be generous, give love, hope and understanding!

As for me, I am facing a long line of godchildren intent on extracting their Christmas gifts plus pocket money for their mall sojourns later. Well, there goes my new car and HDTV! Oh well, the feeling is great anyway... Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho...ooooh, ooh, oh my aching back! Foolish goat! Why did the reindeer go on leave anyway?


1 comment:

Donald Douglas said...

Hope you're having a great Christmas Day!