I live in a small town that has grown into a rather medium to large town but doesn’t quite realize it yet. We still have Apple Festivals in the fall, Christmas Parades with homemade floats, and Storytelling Guild meetings in the local library once a month. Though there are more strip malls, restaurants, and hotels every year but it is still a relatively nice place to live.
There is an older gentleman and his wife who live here. He is a writer and a member of the storytelling guild. He also owns a red suit that he dons every December. Most of the year his name is Pete, but for one month he become something else. A symbol of something far beyond a single man. He represents magic, hope and wonder. He is Santa Claus.
He rides in the Christmas parade and he sit in the big green velvet chair in the mall, tirelessly listening to each child that sits upon his knee. Some are eager and willing, some not so much, but he smiles to each and everyone. Watching him, sometimes I think that if the real thing existed in a human form, then Santa has to be a double of Pete.
When I was a little girl, I asked my mother if Santa Claus was real. Most children ask this question eventually. Her answer was yes. Then she went on to explain that Santa Claus wasn’t a person but a spirit. The spirit of giving and cheer that enters into hearts around this time of year. That special little nudge that has people being kinder or more generous than they normal would.
I have thought about that explanation a lot over the years. And I have to say that I really like it. I think about it every time I see someone drop a dollar in a salvation army bell ringer’s bucket. I think about it when my daughter offers to share with her brother, when my son gives up the last cup cake, and when my ex-husband offers to let me come to their house on Christmas morning to watch the kids open presents. (We alternate every year.) These are things that don’t have to be done but people choose to do them anyway. Each time these types of things happen, I am witnessing that giving spirit. Call it Santa Claus, call it something else if you wish, but cherish it.
“You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.”