A presentation by Santa Tim Connaghan
As you know my Holiday work, as Santa Claus, brings joy to the many children and families that I see each year.
As a Christian I not only enjoy the fun and excitement of being Santa Claus, but I also take pride and respect in the traditions and meanings of Christmas and the Christmas season.
The Image of Santa Claus, even with its religious origins in the third century, has today become mostly a symbol of wishes, gift giving and of fun. But, there are other symbols of Christmas. Symbols that can remind us of the true meanings of Christmas.
A few years ago someone researched many of the symbols associated with Christmas, and connected a meaning to each of them.
Although Santa’s work is fun and fantasy, I truly believe it is important to look beyond all that we know of Christmastide.
We should take the time, to look beyond the bright lights and colors…
Beyond the gifts and ribbons and bows…
And beyond the tastes of Holiday meals and aromas of holiday cakes, cookies and candies.
It is good to look beyond, and to remember the deeper meanings and importance of this glorious time of year.
Now, as I said, the story I am about to tell has been around for a few years. No one knows its origin, although it is believed the author was a priest or minister who put these details together as a sermon. The goal was to remind the church members of the real reasons of Christmas
The sermon or story was probably read at Advent or near the beginning of the holiday season. Its goal was to stir our thoughts and as we might go about our day-to-day activities, to recall the symbols presented, not as religious icons, but as memory-keys to remind us of that first Christmas and to relate to the meanings presented.
So whether at work, at school, shopping or even at home, you might see one of the symbols, and remember that one special night in Bethlehem, so long ago.
I present this from Santa’s point-of-view, and as I tell this story, I invite you to create the pictures in your mind. Imagine what you hear, and make your own impressions and associations to this story.
A Special Christmas Story
She had just finished the household chores for the night. Moreover, everything was set for the excitement and joy that to her family, Christmas morning would bring.
Upstairs, the family was sound asleep and she was preparing to get a few hours sleep when, by my own fault, she heard me in the front of the house.
She opened the door of the front room, and to her surprise, she saw me, stepping out from behind the Christmas tree.
I placed my finger over my lips in hopes that she wouldn’t cry out. “What are you doing here?”
She started to ask, but the words choked up in her throat as she saw that I had tears in my eyes and my usual jolly manner was gone. Gone also was the eager, boisterous soul most of you know.
As she stood there in her robe bewildered, I said, “We’ve done it all wrong. We’ve forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. We need to teach the children.” Her perplexed expression still showed in the near darkness. I then reached into my bag, pulled out a small fir tree, and placed it before her.
“Teach the children the old meanings of Christmas ~ the meanings that Christmas now-a-days has forgotten. Teach the children the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round. This depicts the everlasting hope of man kind, and the everlasting life we can only get through God.”
“Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. When we look closely at this evergreen tree we see the needles on this tree point heavenward ~ symbolic of man’s need to focus on heaven.”
“The great, green tree is one of god’s great gifts and has been one of man’s best friends. It has, warmed him, sheltered him and made beauty for him.”
Fumbling in my sack, I drew forth a bright shining gold star.
“Teach the children that the star was a heavenly sign of promise. Long ages ago, God promised a Savior for the world and a sign of the fulfillment of that promise was the great Star of the East. The star now reminds us of God’s love for mankind and of God fulfilling his promise. The countless shining stars at night now show the burning hope of all mankind.”
I gently placed the star on one of the tree’s branches and drew forth from my bag a glittering red Christmas ornament.
“Teach the children, red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all people by the Savior.
Jesus Christ gave his life and shed his blood that every man might have God’s gift to all, eternal life. Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God.” I gently hung the red ornament on the tree. The deep green of the fir tree was perfect background for the ornament.
As I was twisting and pulling another object out of my bag, she heard the kitchen clock begin to strike twelve. She wanted to say something, but I went right on.
I then brought out a HOLLY LEAF. “Teach the children that the holly plant represents everlasting life. Its leaves also remain green year round. Its thorny points can remind us of the crown of thorns worn by our Savior when he died, later to rise again in immortality. The red holly berry represents the blood shed by Him.”
Another look into my bag and I retrieved a beautiful gold and white ANGEL. “Teach the children that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. The angels sang ‘Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men.”
I was feeling a little better by then and my eyes were beginning to twinkle now as I stood there. As she again watched me reach into my bag, she suddenly heard a soft tinkling sound. As it grew louder, she recognized it as a sound of long ago.
“Teach the children, that as the lost sheep are found by sounds of the bell, so should it ring for all men to return to the fold; The bell means guidance and return to God; it further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. For Christ said, “I left the 99 and went in search of the one.”
As the soft sound of the bell faded into the night, I drew forth a candle. I placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny flame cast an eerie glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in the shadow slowly danced and weaved upon the walls.
“Teach the children,” I whispered, “that the candle is symbolic of man’s thanks for the star of long ago. The candle also symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.”
The candle signifies the Light that shines within all of God’s people. A light that should never be hidden. Its flame seems very weak, but it chases away the darkness, just as the stars do. It’s small light is the mirror of starlight.
At first candles were placed on the Christmas tree ~ they were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. Safety now has removed the candles from the tree and the white and colored lights have taken over in remembrance. These lights can now remind us that Christ is the Light of the World.
I turned on the lights of her family’s Christmas tree and reaching down picked up a gift from under the tree. “Teach the children that God so loved the world that he gave…” “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift of his son. Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the holy babe and presented him with gifts, of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men.”
I pointed to the large bow ribbon on the package and said, “Teach them that the bow is placed on a present to tie it together. It can remind us of the spirit, and the brotherhood, of man.
We should remember that the bow is tied as men should be tied ~ all of us together, with the bonds of good will and love toward each other. Goodwill forever is the message of the bow.”
Now, she wondered what else I had in my bag. Instead of reaching into the bag, I slung it over my shoulder and began to reach up on the Christmas tree. She thought I was hungry as I reached for a candy cane, purposely placed high on her tree. I unfastened it however, turned and presented it to her.
“Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherds crook. The crook on the shepherd’s staff helps bring the strayed sheep back to the fold. The candy cane is the symbol of Salvation, that we are our brother’s keeper and reminds us of the helping hand we should show at Christmas time
I then paused. She seemed to realize I should be on my way. Later would be her family’s big day. As she looked about the room, a feeling of satisfaction and relief showed in her face. I was pleased. She looked back at me and saw that the twinkle was back in my eyes.
I reached into my bag and brought forth one last item, a large wreath. I placed it on the fireplace and said, “Please teach the children that the endless circle of the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases. So too, is the eternal nature of God’s love; it never ceases, never stops, Never ends. Real love is one continuous round of affection.”
The wreath also does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It can be made of evergreen or of holly. It can have stars or candles, or red ornaments. It can have ribbons and candy canes. It can reminds us all of the things of Christmas. Please teach the children.”
As she gazed at the wreath, I slipped away, my job done…. pointing people back to the real meaning behind Christmas.
She pondered and wondered and thrilled with delight,
As she saw and viewed all those symbols that night.
She dozed as she sat in the soft candlelight,
And her thoughts were of Jesus and all that was made right.
To give and to help, to love and to serve,
Are the best things of life, all men can deserve.
Old Claus that jolly old elf,
Is not the best symbol of Christmas itself.
Jesus gave us the gift of love and of life,
The ending of evil, the ceasing of strife.
Santa’s message to her on Christmas Eve night,
Was to open a treasure of deepest insight.
The one thing on earth we all ought to do,
Is to teach the children the right and the true.
“Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put Santa in the center, for he is but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our Lord, our God.” Teach the children that I, Santa Clause symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December.”
This is my gift to each of you. That through these symbols you will refresh your memory to the True meanings of Christmas,
Adapted by Timothy Connaghan, December 2000.