We all have a mental image of Santa Claus. (For many it is the jolly, old man in the big red suit, driving a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.) In different countries, both his image and his name change. The spirit of Father Christmas transcends cultures, though, and offers all the hope and joy that Christmas brings. In my mother in law's home country of Sweden, Jultomten arrived each year to the delight of the children. Babbo Natale treats Italy's children to surprises, as Pere Noel is busy in France. St. Nicholas, or Weihnachtsmann, is the German Father Christmas. My Irish and Scottish ancestors believed in Daidi or Daidain na Nollaig, respectively. I have no ability what so ever to speak with an Irish brogue, but Daidi looks a lot to me like Daddy.
As a child, I saw Mommy kissin' Santa Claus everyday of the year. Like the Irish Daidi na Nollaig, my father was MY Santa Claus. He was thrilled to shop and deliver surprises each Christmas, then become our Christmas morning Santa, passing out the gifts that had been piled high under the tree as we slept. When my own children were small, my husband was also our own family Santa Claus, presenting the gifts to our good little boy and girl. And dogs. And cats.
As my children have grown into young adults, we now tend to all share the privilege of gifting each other on Christmas morning. We now have more patience (and practice) at waiting our turn, not wanting to miss anyone's ooo's and ahhh's when unveiling the gifter's special present. For at the heart of things, isn't that where we find the most joy? After planning, and shopping, and wrapping....my heart swells with happiness just watching my loved ones open a gift I picked especially for them.
And yes children, there is also a Mrs. Santa Claus! As women, we do the bulk of shopping and figuring out gifts, even for the most difficult loved one to buy for. I truly enjoy my role as I also secretly assist Santa in my community. As one of his army of elves, it is a joy to share gifts with those less fortunate, through local churches and agencies. The news this year has reported that children's letters to Santa ask, not for frivolous items, but instead for clothes and even socks. Or a job for Mom.
In the holiday spirit, let us all be someone's Santa, or Mrs. Santa for that matter, and make our corner of the world a better place for those who live there. Thank you Dad, for teaching me it is better to give. I will miss shopping with you for Mom again this year.
A warm country hug to all,