The Day I Saw Santa Claus
Santa in the Eyes of a Child
When I was little, I used to believe that Santa Claus is coming on Christmas eve to deliver our presents under our Christmas tree. We didn’t have a fireplace or chimney, but we were told he is going through the window. I tried to stay up late to watch him come but my parents would tell me I have to be asleep in order for him to show up and deliver the presents and that Santa always wanted it to be a surprise. I would not want to lose the opportunity of getting my presents, so I obeyed.
The next morning, me and my siblings were so delighted to see the presents under the tree. The walking and talking doll I had been longing for, exactly as what I wanted and described it to be, was truly there.
Then life became hard. More siblings were borne into the family. One year, my father lost his job and my mother was only a stay-at-home mom. There was not much income to provide for a growing family. We were transferred from an exclusive private school to public school. We thinned out our household domestic helpers to one and later none. Come Christmas, we noticed Santa didn’t come to drop our presents. Our parents bought us stuff and toys that we knew just came from them. Nevertheless, we were still happy and delighted with the gifts. The following Christmas eves, same thing happened up to the time we completed elementary grade and high school. Then I went to college. I was fortunate enough to get scholarships that I managed to work my way through college myself. That helped out my parents a bit. The thought of Santa started to wane or fade away in our family tradition.
We grew up, some of us married and had children. Santa was not expected as much as how we expected him to be. We got presents under the Christmas tree but from family, relatives and godparents. Of course, as I matured, I learned to question the character of Santa. Was he real? Who was he?
When I was a child, Santa to me is not a fictional character as they claimed him to be. He was a jolly fat man with white beard wearing a red and white suit. Like most children from all over the world, we await for his coming on Christmas eve. I sometimes watched through our window and see if I could watch him getting off our neighbor's yard or rooftop first from his sleigh. From where I came from, we don't have winter season. But we knew Santa lives in the wintry North Pole, although we didn't know where exactly it was in the map. He was never a controversy in any of our regions. All we knew was, we have to be well-behaved and good children so he could deliver our toys.
When I migrated to North America, I heard of Saint Nicholas, recognized by and whose day is being celebrated by some Europeans every December 6th. St. Nicholas is dressed differently from Santa. He looks more like a bishop, pope or king.
It was in Canada where I first heard about Saint Nicholas or St. Nick through my cousin whose Dutch husband yearly portrays the role of St. Nick or commonly known among Dutch as "Sint Klaas", the European version of Santa Claus. I gathered that it was the Dutch settlers who introduced St. Nicholas to North America.
St. Nicholas has a very interesting family history. He came from a wealthy family and when his parents died, he took his strict upbringing very seriously and devoted his life to God. Before he became a saint, he gave up his material possessions and set out to help the impoverish and the sick, and performed other good deeds.
Then there is Kriss Kringle. We used the term Kriss Kringle more often when we refer to “exchanging of gifts”, among relatives and friends, classmates or co-workers. Then I found out that Kriss Kringle is derived from the German "Christkindl", which translates to "Christ Child" in English. Similar to Santa Claus, I learned that Kriss Kringle only shows up in homes where children are asleep then leave them presents.
The Spirit of Giving
We were always told, it is better to give than to receive. But there is still that desire to receive. The bible also says, “Freely we receive, therefore, freely give. (Matthew 10:8)” When we give, there is something special that happens. We feel joy, love, kindness, peace and contentment.
I looked back at those times that happened in my life. I realized I had given away many times. It gave me a sense of well-being and an accomplishment. I felt connected with the Christ-Child within me.
Although there are controversies about the idea of Santa Claus, I still would like to believe in Santa, not as a real person, but as a symbol of generosity. He represents the spirit of The Giver. He made my giving spirit alive. It also made the Word of God in Acts 20:35 alive that "It is more blessed to give than to receive". Eventually, whenever I give, I still receive. Truly, it becomes like a current that blessings just keep flowing - from me to others and from others to me. There is always a blessing that comes as a result of our giving.
I am a Christian, but I don’t see that believing in Santa is taking attention away from the “real” message of the holiday season, the story of Jesus’ birth and the salvation of the world. All that Santa characterized was giving, never taking. When Jesus was born, there were three kings from afar who brought Him presents. Why did they give? In spite of being kings themselves, they gave, because God's Word also says that "every knee shall bow" (Philippians 2:9-11 and Romans 14:11). They honor the "King of kings" with their gifts.
Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)
9 Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
and gave Him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
When we give, we honor the Christ-Child within us. He came because He gave. In John 3:16, it says, "God gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus was given to us so that we can have life and have it abundantly. God has given us the greatest Gift of all.
We can therefore view Santa as an extension of Christ. We must look at Santa’s kind and generous actions. Whenever I do charity work or giving away toys and food to impoverished children and helping out needy adults throughout the years, and even helping the infirmed and less fortunate, I not only play the role of Santa, but I meet and "see" Santa “face to face” in that situation. Then he becomes real, although not as a jolly, fat, white-bearded man, but as a symbol of kindness, love and generosity. I realized I have actually seen Santa Claus many times over the years of my life. Santa Claus, like the Christ-Child within me, never left me, as long as I keep that spirit of giving alive.
Merry Christmas to all!