So the question still hanging from Monday is, how does one 1700-year-old guy in a red suit slide down the chimneys of hundreds of millions of homes in one night and deliver toys to hundreds of millions of children and know each one by name?
In short: Is Santa Claus real?
The short answer is, yes. The long answer is, well, longer.
We’ve covered the story of the very real and historical St. Nicholas. And you hopefully remember your own experience of Santa Claus and the mysterious presents left under the Christmas tree. But did you learn the lessons that were wrapped in those gifts?
Do you remember how you felt the first time you saw a present from Santa? Excited? Overjoyed? Amazed that someone so larger than life, and who you were maybe a little afraid of, would give you something wonderful, something you actually asked for, even when you weren’t always good?
Yes? Perfect! You have learned the first lesson of Santa Claus. Yes, it’s just that simple. He wants you to know how it feels to be excited, overjoyed and amazed — and loved and appreciated.
Next, do you remember how it felt when you gave your first Christmas present to someone else? Excited? Amazed that you could make someone else feel as overjoyed as you did to receive a present? And did you wonder maybe if this was the way Santa feels — and why he does what he does?
If so, then you have learned the second lesson. When you practice giving and receiving year after year, you grow to learn how humble acts of generosity makes life more — oh, what’s the word? — merry. Like it often is in December, when people hold doors for one another, smile at strangers or wave off minor debts. When people act as if Santa Claus was watching them. And feel better for it!
This is what we call Christmas spirit.
It’s no more than living the age-old lesson of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
It brings peace and good will, just as the angels brought to those shepherds in the field 2000 years ago, in the original Nativity scene, proclaiming tidings of great joy to all people that unto them a child was born and lying in a manger.
You’d think these simple lessons would be easy to remember, but kids need to be reminded of them — in dramatic ways. For that matter, so do adults.
We don’t have angels showing up every year to fill us with awe, so we found elves and reindeer and a hundred other traditions.
Best of all, we found Santa Claus, the very embodiment of Christmas spirit, dressed up in a red suit.
These traditions have been kept alive, in part, by a society dedicated to preserving his secret throughout our ancestry. After 1700 years, it is still alive thanks to us. We are the Secret Ancestral Nativity Tradition Associates of Claus.
No one person could deliver presents to the whole world in one night the way Nicholas delivered them to his village. It takes millions, hundreds of millions, in every village — people who embrace his spirit and pass on his lessons from generation to generation.
And when a child has sufficiently learned Santa’s lessons, it is the parents’ honor to nominate that child to be one of his associates. To become S.A.N.T.A. and to pass down that Christmas spirit to future generations.
So is this Santa’s Secret? That his work is done by mothers and fathers and grandparents and aunts and uncles and older brothers and sisters and friendly grown-ups everywhere around Christmastime?
Santa’s Secret is much simpler and, sadly, harder to grasp for very long. It is the simple message that loving others as you wish to be loved makes every day Christmas. And that you are always loved, even when you don’t feel you deserve it. These are the lessons we want children to learn. And it takes us all, every one of us, elves and reindeer included, to teach that lesson.
And, of course, angels and that infant in the manger, in whom our founder Nicholas believed.
We say we believe in someone when we support what they do. In S.A.N.T.A. Claus, we believe in Santa with all our our hearts and minds and spirits. So we continue Nicholas’s work.
We — you — are Santa Claus. And we act with the full authority and name of St. Nicholas. Let us wear that name well. And proudly. All year.