Grannie came bringing for repair a small, eight inch high, statue of Santa kneeling in front of the baby Jesus. The ceramic cradle containing the Christ Child figure had come loose and needed reglued to the base of the figurine. Grannie and her fellow volunteer ladies had rescued the statue from the treasures dropped off to be recycled at our Church sponsored "Helping Hand" store.
For me the colorful little statue struck a just right response in my soul. You see I have always treasured the concept of Santa freely giving gifts of love at Christmas. The little kneeling Santa paying homage to the baby Jesus shouts out the heart grabbing simple Christian message of love for our fellow man. Each year we celebrate together the coming of God in person in the form of a pure innocent baby born to a virgin mother.
Santa is of course the modern version of Saint Nickolas who actually lived in Turkey only about 300 years after the Christ preached forever to be alive in our hearts and was crucified in the Promised Land. Through the years old St Nick morphed from the Bishop of Myra into a bona fide Saint, the patron of children, sailors, and Russia too. His popular names were many Kris Kringle, the Dutch Sinter Claes, but best of all the way small children say Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus the name we know today.
There are those among us who reject Santa Claus and ban any mention of him from their homes at Christmas time. A lady friend from California rejected the idea of her young children believing that Santa came and brought presents at Christmas. She wasn't about to lie to her own kids when they should know that Santa was a myth and those gifts came from their parents.
Yes this is the same lady that later allowed her teenage daughters to tour the country with a group of sixties style hippies in their VW Microbus while she toured the race circuit living with a famous driver. Ah yes no good sense there either and little gained since.
Encouraged by her little statue Grannie looked for the story of her kneeling Santa on line. She found a wonderful children's book titled "A Special Place for Santa" written by Jeanne Pieper. The forward: "This narrative further strengthens that relationship by blending imagination and historical facts in a delightful way that brings Santa Claus -- St. Nicholas -- to his knees before the living Jesus."
Walk or drive the streets at night and one sees all sorts of Christmas decorations. Lighted garlands, icicle lights hanging from eaves, large lighted snowflakes and other shapes, outdoor trees decorated with red and green lights, and more white, blue an endless variety of lights. There are blow up figures some Christ themed and some cartoon, elves, angels, reindeer, Santa and more. Windows outlined with lights and inside the decorated tree peeks out. It boggles the imagination. A friend even has his outdoor light decorations animated and set to music.
Then there is the wondrous Santa Claus Lane up and down the islands of Norris Avenue. In my youth it was a state of the art marvel with reflective paint that vividly reflected the car lights as my dad insisted be bright much to the dismay of opposing traffic. Yes it is still there, lovingly preserved by funds set aside from the loving bequest of Norma (Bobinmeyer) Strunk.
What else can all that gorgeous display of light be but our expression of love for our Savior. It is our way to say "Happy Birthday" as we honor his birth.
Pieper's book brings to mind our modern-day Santa Claus as he pauses to kneel and pray in the rear of an empty church simply decorated with a creche up front. "I am sorry Lord that my people seem to pay more attention to me than to your Son in this special season" we hear his honest plea.
And the wondrous melodious voice of God comes back "Not at all my son, through you my people are honoring my only son Jesus! Millions of the faithful honor Him by your acts of gift giving and expressions of love for family and friends. I am blessed by your actions."
Now may you too have the best Christmas ever!
That is how I saw it.