Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa, I know Him!

When I am asked by a child if Santa is real, I always answer the same way: “Do you like it when Santa comes to your house?” When they say, “Yes,” then I complete my answer with, “Then it is good to believe,” and I stand by that. We are a nation that celebrates the birth of Christ with a bit of a twist. Do I think the purpose of Christ’s birth is lost in the commercialization of Christmas? Yea, some.

I remember the anticipation and anxious days, hours, minutes that lead up to the moment when we received permission to come out of our room and see what Santa had left. The Christmas tree revealed in front of us in all its colorful glory, bright and shiny with the gifts piled all around.

Mine was a family of five kids, and mom and dad still did a good job in providing material gifts for each of us. Metal erector sets, Tonka trucks, BB Guns, Barbie and other up-to-date toys. There were the obligatory socks, shirts and underwear, of course, but it was the toys that took center stage in our hearts and minds that morning.

The elements of Santa are so much fun – like writing a letter to him telling him all the things you want. Most kids do not get the part about money and the cost of the things they want. My youngest typically lists thousands of dollars in toys and wants on his list. I am sure I did the same. I think we looked through the Sears catalog at toys and circled the ones we wanted.

Going to see Santa at the mall and the obligatory yearly pictures was always crazy when my kids were small. Some kids get scared and the long lines in the mall can be a drag, but, hey, it’s Santa and he is here.

We love watching the reports on the news showing a map where Santa is in his sleigh and we’ve spent hours looking into the sky for Rudolph’s red nose glowing, sometimes seeing it.

Another favorite tradition at our home is the cookies and carrots. When our kids were still young, there was fur and all types of signs that Santa had come down the chimney. The cookies and carrots were, of course, eaten and napkin used. We even left Santa notes, and he responded back!

I admit to my participation in the gift giving to my wife and kids from jolly ole’ Saint Nick. I remember when my oldest son was just knee-high, he got a drivable battery-operated truck he could not even steer. I have purchased all my kids gifts ahead of their time, over their age bracket. I don’t plan out and bargain shop; I do the male shopping technique -- turn and burn. Go in, get out.

Humorist Dave Barry says, “Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the holiday season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions, such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.”

Isn’t it amazing that the whole world is mesmerized by the day Jesus was born? Every language has a Merry Christmas: Russian -- "Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva s Novim Godom," Spanish -- "Feliz Navidad," Japanese -- " Kurisumasu omedeto,” Icelandic -- "Gledileg Jol," French -- "Joyeux Noël," Inupiaq Eskimo (Kotzebue area in northwest Alaska) – “Quvianagli Anaiyyuniqpaliqsi suli Nakuuluni Ukiutqiutiqsi.”

I love all the bells and whistles that are Christmas. I am also passionate about the real meaning of Christmas. I live my life for the King of Kings who was born on Christmas Day. I love the whole story, the details of the human and spiritual struggle that is the birth of Jesus. The blessings of a King so mighty but of a meager beginning in this world. He never stood on a balcony with rings on his fingers and ornate robes dictating personal desires and wants. He came to die for us, he gave his life for you and me.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?” ~ Dr. Seuss

Love on others this Christmas and God bless,

TJ Greaney

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