I have been reading a lot of posts about the commercialization of Christmas and dialing it back to what Christmas day is really all about. I read a very powerful blog post about the magic of Christmas as well as an awesome Facebook post from Pastor Greg Laurie who said that this day wasn’t just the day when Jesus was born, but it was the day that changed the trajectory of the world forever. FOREVER. I believe that. Our family believes that and we keep that in the forefront of our minds and hearts during Christmas despite the very obvious distractions. But we also play Christmas music, we have a decorated and lit tree in our front room, we read Christmas stories, watch Christmas movies and because we are lazy and don’t want to hang lights, we have four – yes, four – Christmas lawn puppets (the horror).
We also have our family traditions and of course, we do presents…and (gasp) Santa comes to our house too. I know.
Of course, my kids get greedy and bug me about this toy and that toy and that’s when I just want to scrap Santa and say that he represents all that is wrong with Christmas! But then I remembered this story from my Dad. I remember this day too. I think I was probably seven, maybe eight? Although I didn’t fully understand the depth of what was happening (after all, I knew my dad was dressed as Santa) nor did I grasp the deep meaning of this moment, when I read this story now I can understand why we cling to that jolly old man in the red and white suit. Here is my dad’s account of that evening:
“My dad had never been that close to Santa in his life. Santa never made it to his house on Christmas Eve when my dad was a kid. The family was so poor that my dad grew up not knowing the fun of waking up on Christmas Day and finding a toy, or anything, under the tree. My sisters and I always knew that Santa would come to our house… my dad would see to it the Santa made it there. As I grew older, and even moreso after my dad died, I discovered that he would always send money to his family (sisters) in Mexico for Christmas so that Santa would be sure to find his way there. I discovered that he also would buy baskets of fruit and had them wrapped in cellophane to be delivered to the church and poor families in Austin at Christmas… where he knew that Santa would not make a stop on Christmas Eve.
On top of the basket was a red bow and a miniature plastic Santa. He did this for many years… and he did not want the recipient to know where it came from. I found out through one of the produce vendors who sold produce to my dad for the restaurant and who delivered the Christmas fruit baskets. The people who received them thought that the produce guy had sent them, they never knew. When I was in elementary school, the nuns would pass out an orange, apple or a grapefruit in a box covered with a red and green bow on the last day of school before the Christmas break. This was their Christmas gift to us. I was having a discussion with my dad one day and brought up the Christmas “present” that the nuns gave us and who made a big deal about it. I was belittling what the nuns did because I was used to getting toys, candy and comic books for Christmas.
As we talked he said to me that there are many kids who never even get an apple, orange, grapefruit, or candy on Christmas Day. He said that what the nuns did was insuring that those kids would have at least that as a Christmas gift on Christmas Day. He said that there are some kids who would be excited to receive something as simple as an orange. I did not know until later that he had been one of those kids who would have loved to have received… even just an orange. My dad was speaking from experience.
One Christmas evening, Santa showed up at my parents house. My dad was totally surprised and overwhelmed with emotion. He couldn’t believe his eyes and tears rolled down his face. He couldn’t even talk, but he was excited as a kid with a bag full of candy and toys. He kept slapping Santa’s back and hugging Santa over and over again. He hugged Santa so hard that Santa’s ribs hurt for two days.
So, that was why my dad was like a kid when he saw Santa come to his house. Santa sat there with him to talk and take pictures. He even had coffee and cookies with him. It really happened!! Santa came to visit my dad and it made that my dad’s day…one to remember. Santa will never forget that day, either…one that he will always remember…priceless.”
And guess what, there were three little kids (my sister, me and my little brother) who won’t forget that either. This is the wonder and magic of Christmas we can pass along to others as well. If you are blessed, bless others. You don’t need to post about it or snap an insta of it, just do it and don’t let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. Let your giving be done in secret.
That’s one of my favorite verses in the bible. It comes from Matthew 6:3 “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be done in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” My Grandpa did most of his giving in secret and although I doubt he was seeking a reward in return, I am sure he was blessed just by knowing that there were kiddos who would get to experience the wonder of Christmas and the magic of Santa on Christmas morning – a wonder he finally experienced much later in his life, thanks to my Dad.