Santa Claus
by Vince Flaherty


Well, John Patrick, my little guy, here it is Christmas again and you’re getting to be a pretty husky sort of little citizen now. You’re 10 years old and it seems only the other day when you were just so big. The first time I saw you, you hauled off with your little fist and took a swing in your old man’s direction as if to say: “Oh, no – not him!”

So look at you now. You must have grown a foot in the last year. I’ve noticed that you haven’t been taking your Teddy Bears to bed with you for some time, and you’re going out for all the sports now, and have taken on quite a few other interests. But wait a minute now; don’t be too sure there isn’t a Santa Claus. Don’t ever get so big you can’t believe in things that are wholesome and beautiful.

This doesn’t seem like Christmas, you say?

Everyone thinks the same thing at some moment or another this time each year. Nevertheless, it is Christmas and nothing can undermine it or destroy it.  “I mean we never have any snow or anything – like Christmas,” he told me.  And I told him that Christmas in Southern California is just about as it was in Bethlehem 2006 years ago – the same kind of climate and seasonal aspects. I told him that Yule cards have linked Christmas with the snow more than anything else.

All of the kids at school say there isn’t a Santa Claus?… Well, you know how rumors start. I bet one kid started that last year. There’s meanness in a lot of humans…even in little kids who sometimes do and say things just for spite…and they’re sorry afterwards when they see what they’ve done.

Most of them start off in life just like that kid in school… They grow up and spread their poison everywhere... and they plant hatred and undermine things wherever they go. It all amounts to the same thing…a little kid tells you there isn’t any Santa Claus and tries to spoil one of the most wonderful periods of your life. It’s like the grown up people who go around trying to foment hatreds between one race and another race, or one religion and another religion. They try to tarnish the symbol this country stands for – and it is a symbol of hope and freedom and peace.

It’s too bad we have people like that in the world. What a great place this would be if we didn’t have them!   So that’s what’s wrong with people, son - they get angry inside, and then they get mean, a lot of them do.  Oh, they grow up, and they go through school, and they get smart…Some of them get so smart that they don’t believe in Santa Claus.  But J.P., none of us are smart…You see big strong guys driving trucks down the street, and a lot of them are smarter in many ways than the so-called big people…only luck just didn’t hit them just right.

Santa is a myth, you say? Well, maybe so, but what a magnificent myth! It’s a fable no one can afford to discard –not ever! It’s a story of kindness and generosity and happiness: three things that are woven so wondrously together that they are one, each lending its goodness to the other.

Look out the window. See the man and woman carrying packages into the house next door? They’re laughing and talking. People aren’t like that most of the time, are they? That’s what I mean. That’s the Christmas spirit, and it’s contagious – it reaches out and catches you by the heart. Have you noticed too, how people seem to be brought closer together during the holidays? Have you ever noticed how people seem to be a little more courteous than they are at other times during the year?

You’re right J.P. It is too bad every day cannot be Christmas. The world wouldn’t be wild with greed. Most of all, we wouldn’t have to have our soldiers in places called Iraq or Afghanistan. But even there, J.P., the spirit of Christmas is proved.

Awful as it is in Iraq and Afghanistan, the magic of Christmas offers some solace for the soldiers over there. They are thousands of miles away, but their thoughts are at home…. And the thoughts of their loved ones in turn, span the Pacific and reach right into some lonely position on the wind -swept desert.  Some of those soldiers are barely eight years older than you… so let’s think about them for a moment because they are thinking about us… they are thinking about their hometowns, and their friends… and the places where they used to meet after school…and just talk about sports or the pretty girl with the honey-colored hair and blue eyes.

You want to send something to our soldiers over there? Well, little guy, I guess it’s too late for that now…they’d never get your gift in time – but you can do something even better than that… When you say your prayers, put in a real good one and ask God if He won’t try to give them a Merry Christmas…and ask if He won’t see if He can’t find some way to send them back to us real soon…

And J.P., don’t destroy the idea of there being a Santa, for in reality He is everywhere, and his influence for good is constant. You find it in the abundance of endless riches that are yours only for the appreciation: Like the way the world is reborn all around you when spring comes; or in the autumn when the miracle of art is at work and the trees change to classic shades. You find it in the blendings of health and contentment. And you reap its benefits in a million little ways too staggering for the human mind to compute.

Yes, Little Guy, you’re ten, but you’ll have to get quite a little older before you can understand that Santa does exist in many mysterious but marvelous ways.  When you hear about the people working in hospitals, or making contributions to charity, or helping the underprivileged – that is the real Santa at work. Fortunately, there are many people like that in the world – and their existence is not an accident. They are put on earth to do good.

And Little Guy, …next year you may change your thinking about Santa… But you’re ten, now… and the merriest of all Christmases to you… Fill yourself with this magnificent day.

Merry Christmas to you… A very Merry Christmas… May its spirit chase you, catch you and crowd you with joy.