This year, right after Thanksgiving, our grandson Oliver came home from kindergarten asking questions about how to rig the camera so that it would take a picture of Santa as he came in the living room. Apparently the existence of Santa is a hotly debated topic in the Lincoln Elementary Kindergarten. Which reminds me of my favorite Christmas Poem, The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus by Ogden Nash that has a line, “Slunk like a weasel or a marten; Through nursery and kindergarten; Whispering low to every tot; 'There isn't any, no there's not!'
So here is our high tech little guy, ready to set motion detectors on the roof, and install low light cameras in the living room so he could bring this definitive proof to school, to defend his belief in Santa to all the weasels and martens. So I helped him out.
Did you know that during Christmas it is the darkest time of the year? I point to the table top I painted showing the wheel of the year, the solstices and equinoxes. (Yes, I am a very hip grandmother!) See, December 21st has the longest night and shortest day. So it is a time when everyone kind of huddles together. It used to be there were no lights, no warm heaters or anything to help keep people feeling safe and comfy through these dark nights. That is why we have a big bonfire and share a meal with all our friends on that night.
Lots of people thought it would be a good idea to gather in one place and share what they had, to feel safe and make it through these dark nights. People in different places and who have different religions all had special names for this time of sharing. The Winter Solstice, Christmas and Chanukah are only three of many names people have for celebrating this special time of sharing with those they love. We carry the idea that the light can stay lit and carry us through the darkest nights. And where is that light? It is the light within each of us, so we share, increase the flame, the warmth and the light.
During this season of sharing, people’s hearts feel so full of love that they want to give special gifts to others to remind everyone that in the darkest of days we can find love and sharing together. This feeling of giving and sharing is so huge that the idea of Santa is the idea that represents how big this feeling is. So lots of people want to be Santa. You see him at the store, or in parades, those are all people who are channeling the joy of the season. People see him and say, Yes! I remember that good feeling, and they want to pass it on. When we collect food for the food bank and take it there, or make a gift for someone we care about, we get to be the channel of giving too.
As a child you get to be the receiver of lots of presents from Santa and everyone who loves you, when you are older it gets even better, you get to become an aspect of the Spirit of Giving. So is there a real Santa? Indeed there is.
So don’t bother trying to catch him in the act, you will never catch him. Although there was one time when I was very small I am pretty sure I saw him as he was flying away. Hold your magic close; those dark nights can only be filled with the brightness of your love.
The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus by Ogden Nash
In Baltimore there lived a boy.
He wasn't anybody's joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws.
In school he never led his classes,
He hid old ladies' reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed,
And elbows to the table glued.
He stole the milk of hungry kittens,
And walked through doors marked
He said he acted thus because
There wasn't any Santa Claus.
Another trick that tickled Jabez
Was crying 'Boo' at little babies.
He brushed his teeth, they said in town,
Sideways instead of up and down.
Yet people pardoned every sin,
And viewed his antics with a grin,
Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,
'There isn't any Santa Claus!'
Deploring how he did behave,
His parents swiftly sought their grave.
They hurried through the portals pearly,
And Jabez left the funeral early.
Like whooping cough, from child to child,
He sped to spread the rumor wild:
'Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes
There isn't any Santa Claus!'
Slunk like a weasel or a marten
Through nursery and kindergarten,
Whispering low to every tot,
'There isn't any, no there's not!'
The children wept all Christmas eve
And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.
No infant dared hang up his stocking
For fear of Jabez' ribald mocking.
He sprawled on his untidy bed,
Fresh malice dancing in his head,
When presently with scalp-a-tingling,
Jabez heard a distant jingling;
He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof
Crisply alighting on the roof.
What good to rise and bar the door?
A shower of soot was on the floor.
What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?
The fireplace full of Santa Claus!
Then Jabez fell upon his knees
With cries of 'Don't,' and 'Pretty Please.'
He howled, 'I don't know where you read it,
But anyhow, I never said it!'
'Jabez' replied the angry saint,
'It isn't I, it's you that ain't.
Although there is a Santa Claus,
There isn't any Jabez Dawes!'
Said Jabez then with impudent vim,
'Oh, yes there is, and I am him!
Your magic don't scare me, it doesn't'
And suddenly he found he wasn't!
From grimy feet to grimy locks,
Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,
An ugly toy with springs unsprung,
Forever sticking out his tongue.
The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;
They searched for him, but not with zeal.
No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,
Which led to thunderous applause,
And people drank a loving cup
And went and hung their stockings up.
All you who sneer at Santa Claus,
Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,
The saucy boy who told the saint off.
The boy who got him licked his paint off.
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