Heartwings says. “Santa does not have to be visible to be real.”
From my childhood I remember an old nylon stocking stuffed with presents lying on the front part of the Franklin stove in my bedroom and the excitement of taking out and opening the small wrapped packages within it. Later in my childhood came the fun of shopping for small, inexpensive stocking presents and wrapping them, and the feeling of glee as my contributions were opened and exclaimed over. In our house Santa only filled the stockings. All other gifts were labeled with the name of the giver and placed under the tree to be opened on Christmas eve.
Santa was a mysterious figure in a red suit who always managed to evade my view. Once revealed as a myth, in my mind he remained and still does to this day, as real as real can be. Santa is the personification of generosity. He never expects anything, though cookies are often put out for him, and, too, celery sticks for his reindeer. He is an amalgam of myths and legends, and an important part of Christmas. There are those who think he takes away from the Christian focus on the birth of Jesus at this time, yet the details of that too are a collection of myths.
The myths surrounding Santa are built around the reputation of a real man, St. Nicholas, a kind Turkish bishop who was said to provide dowry money for several young ladies so they could get married. There are other sources for today’s man in the red suit that have coalesced around him. They all involve gifts in some way or another. Another favorite of mine is La Befana, an Italian woman who puts gifts into the shoes of young children because she is looking to give them to the Christ child. The three kings had stopped by as she was doing her household chores and she was too diligent to take up their invitation to go with them, so she set out later and wanders still, leaving gifts.
There is a German legendary figure called the Christkindl, and more figures, if one digs around on the Internet, all bearing gifts. No matter the name or the language, the spirit is the same: the spirit of generosity. Absent the commercialism of the day, the idea that we can celebrate the gift of the returning light—the Solstice, or the birth of a baby who became a holy figure, with gifts makes so much sense. In days gone by the gifts might have been placed on an altar. As time goes by, customs change, some continue and some do not, yet the theme remains the same. Giving and receiving, the returning of the light, the birth of a new brightness in the sky, and hopefully in our hearts, is what Christmas is about.
No matter how they occur or when, may your Holiday celebrations be merry and bright.
Blessings and Best regards, Tasha Halpert
PS, Please consider sending me a few words about your holiday celebrations or anything else you might wish to share. It is a gift to me when I hear from a reader.