I want to share two Christmas stories concerning Santa Claus. When I was growing up Christmas was so important as we celebrated the birth of Jesus. The Christmas tree and the manger depicting the story of Jesus being born were the symbols of the spirit of the holiday. Oh, sure, we got out of school for about 10 days, but it was more than that... the whole holiday was magical & spiritual. For most young children there is the church Christmas play. My grandkids were in their church's play singing their hearts out with the many Christmas Carols. It was such a delight to watch all these young children perform for their families and the church members. This reminded me of when I was just a kid.
But, it was last night after we got back from seeing the grandkids in Cincinnati that my older brother called and reminded me of our Christmas memories of when we were kids. Santa Claus was such a big part of the whole holiday. Mom & Dad always reminded us that Santa was one of God's helpers and it was Jesus that gave us the greatest gift. As you may remember it was so exciting when Santa would soon be here and leave the presents. We did not have a fireplace for Santa to use; so, he needed to just come through the back door. Dad had made some kind of special arrangements with Santa to come early on Christmas Eve. To ensure that we did not see Santa, Dad would drive us around town looking at all of the decorated houses. Mom had to stay home to let Santa in, because we could not leave the house unlocked, of course! But, each year Mom would pull me aside from the other 3 kids to let me know that if I left Santa an orange, he would probably leave me an extra present. Of course, this was such a great deal... and, it was a secret between Mom, Santa & me. Many years went by with many oranges left for Santa to get that extra present. One in particular when I was about 11 or 12, Mom & Dad took the younger two kids to shop in Evansville (about 1 hour's drive away) – they would be gone all day. It was a beautiful December day before Christmas. My older brother said lets play basketball. We couldn't play because our old ball was so worn it wouldn't hold air. My brother said lets use your Christmas ball, but I protested Santa hasn't brought it yet. That is when I discovered one of the biggest of life's lessons. My brother showed me where all of the presents were hidden. That's when I realized that Mom had been eating my oranges. I could not tell Mom that I knew, so for a few more years, I gave Mom my orange. There is a good ending, though, my brother gave me his orange or I was going to tell Mom & Dad on our playing basketball, that year.
The other story is about my middle son (the one that was so much like his Dad). At about age 8 or 9, he heard at school that Santa may not be real, but he held on to the belief, because he figured that Santa had to exist, since we could not possibly afford all those presents. As it was we had the same problem as my parents... no fireplace for Santa to get into our house. What we did was take the 3 boys and my wife over to her parents with me staying home to let Santa in the back door. My middle son & I had a secret deal with Santa, that if he left some cookies & milk and an orange for Santa that he would get an extra gift. You bet he would not let that deal drop. But this particular year, he needed some proof that Santa actually showed up. I had him draw a picture of Santa and I would ask Santa to autograph it. Using my left hand to sign it (to ensure that my son would not think it was my writing) convinced him that Santa had come for sure. Unfortunately, he took it to school as proof positive that there was a Santa. My son came home and was really mad at me. Not so much at all of the laughing and teasing he got at school, not, even, that I tried to fool him... it was that I had eaten his cookies and oranges! -by John G. West
Do you have a Santa story to share? I would love to publish them here until January first. JGW