Lucy Lemay Cellucci

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The Santa Club

 

Dear clever child,believe

For a while now, you’ve had your suspicions. Like any good scientist, your doubts and curiosities have led you to question the seemingly illogical details of the beliefs with which you’ve been raised.

How can he tell if we’re misbehaving?

How does he get around the whole world in a single night?

Though your head may grasp what’s really been going on all these years, your heart is the organ I am speaking to at the moment, so that it may understand its job is just beginning.  You are about to gain membership into a very special club. Speaking from experience, I can recall feeling at odds about this information when I found out the truth. So please allow me to do what I do best in order to explain this to you.

There once was a young boy named Nicholas who grew up in a small European village.  Nicholas’s family was quite well off. They always had plenty of food to eat, warm beds to sleep in and a solid roof over their heads. Nicholas was the eldest boy in his family, and as such, he would help his father at work. Nicholas’s father ran the village bakery. He was in contact with everyone from the village. During the holy season of Christmas, Nicholas noted that several of the village people would tell his father the most outrageous tales that always involved the mysterious appearance of gifts and food at their doorsteps while they were out at the Christmas Eve mass service. Convinced that someone (or something) was bestowing charity and generosity to those who were in need, many of the villagers began creating hymns in praise of an entity that had become known as “Father Christmas”. Nicholas would always laugh at their foolishness and ask his father why all these silly villagers believed in such nonsense. Nicholas’s family had never returned from Christmas Eve mass to find gifts at their doorstep.

“This is true,” Nicholas’s father replied, “but is it not also true that your Christmas season is always bright and merry? You and your siblings always have food in your bellies, clothing on your backs and warm beds in which to rest. There are others who are deprived of such comforts. Perhaps it is those people whom Father Christmas holds close in his heart during the holy season…the ones who are most in need.”

As the years passed, the bakery that Nicholas’s father ran became more prosperous. Nicholas, now a young man, was running the daily operations of the bakery. Though he was very good at making the delicious pastries and had a knack for running the business at a handsome profit, he had grown into a rather pragmatic young man who had no tolerance for nonsense — especially the kind of nonsense that was related to the tales of Father Christmas. His clandestine Christmas Eve visits had now spread throughout the entire European continent and were rumored to be taking place in North America as well! Some people believed that Father Christmas was some sort of spirit who would herald his visits by ringing a bell. It was rumored that bells could be heard across Europe on Christmas Eve before the gifts and treasures were discoveredfatherchristmas

“What utter nonsense!” Nicholas lamented to his father one evening. “There’s no way that anybody could journey around the world in one single evening to deliver gifts. It’s preposterous the way these fools believe in their own fabrications! I cannot bear another season of these ridiculous stories!”

Soon, life became difficult for Nicholas and his family. Though they were well-off financially, Nicholas’s father had grown into an old man and was in poor health. The village doctor could do nothing more for him than keep the old man comfortable until his time to pass came. The responsibility to care for the family had fallen squarely on Nicholas’s shoulders. That Christmas Eve, Nicholas’s father made an odd request of him. He asked him to stay back from the Christmas Eve mass and keep him company. Nicholas willingly agreed. He never did care for the lengthy sermons given by the village clergyman, who had a tendency to go on at great length. And he felt irritable towards his father, who always had some excuse for not attending the whole service with the rest of the family.

“My cherished son,” Nicholas’s father said, beckoning him to his bedside, “I have one final request to make of you before I pass.”

Nicholas knelt at his father’s bedside and took his hand. “Of course, Father, anything you wish.”

Nicholas’s father handed him a long, thin key on an iron ring. “This key unlocks a small crawl space under the floor in the woodshed of our property,” he told his son. “Inside, you will find a sack made of the finest red velvet. It contains items that will be of great importance to some of the less fortunate families in our village. There is a roll of parchment in the sack that will tell you, specifically, which items are to be delivered to whom. You must do this before the end of Christmas Eve service, before everyone returns home.”

Nicholas stared at his father in disbelief. “Father!” he exclaimed, eyes wide with shock. “It is you? All these years…you have been the mysterious Father Christmas?”

“Yes, Nicholas,” the tired old man replied. “It is I who have left the offerings for those who are most in need in our village.”

“I don’t understand,” said Nicholas. “Why would you put yourself through all that? In what way did this benefit you?”

“Creating feelings of joy through the spirit of giving benefits everyone, my son,” Nicholas’s father patiently explained. “When you can elevate the spirits of those around you through acts of kindness…that is where the real magic can be found.”

“But Father,” Nicholas began to protest, “there is no such thing as real magic. It is all a ruse. Won’t the people of the village be angry with us for deceiving them in this way?”

“There is one crucial difference between benevolence and deception, Nicholas,” the old man said, shakily handing his son a small box tied with a strip of burlap. “And that is intention. When you intend to create joy for others in this life, you are, in effect, making magic. All miracles are born out of hope.”

Nicholas opened the box and found an old, tarnished sleigh bell that had a beautiful red ribbon threaded through the top. The word BELIEVE was engraved onto the bell’s surface.

Nicholas’s father continued to explain that over the years he had shared his secret with a few carefully chosen individuals who had started the tradition in other parts of the country. Some who had immigrated to North America started the tradition out there. Others had so much fun giving to the less fortunate that they started leaving Father Christmas gifts for their own family members. And thus began one of our most ingrained traditions of the season.

So now you know the truth. The big man in the red suit with the white beard has been us all along…now you know why I’ve insisted all these years that we leave Santa a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon as a Christmas Eve treat. I was not lying when I said it would be greatly appreciated. And although this specific person may be fictional, the values and the teachings behind the concept of Santa Claus are quite real. Kindness, compassion, giving, joy — these are the wonderful things embodied by Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, as you’ve come to know him. To be a believer of “Santa”, as I am, is to use these things to create Christmas magic for others — passing on this legacy from generation to generation is what keeps the Christmas spirit alive. You can keep this sort of magic going in the world every day through random acts of kindness and showing compassion towards others. Remember those who are less fortunate than you are. Go out of your way to help someone. Tell your younger siblings that Santa is real and that they should believe. Then, while you’re at it, think up something creative to do with that creepy little elf you wanted us to buy.

To believe in Santa is to believe in the best qualities of humanity.

And in that regard, I will always be a true believer.

Now you must choose what you will believe.

My hope is that you will want to make magic come alive for others, too.

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