There are origin stories, legends, and myths surrounding perhaps one of the world’s most well known symbols-Santa Claus.
My inquisitive nature has always required proof almost necessary in order to answer my deepest of questions. Was he real? Did a plump old man with a hat really possess the capability ( and spine…how did someone centuries old have that strong of a back?) to visit every single child across the globe? How did he eat all those cookies without throwing up? These were real life questions I remember having as a child.
On Christmas Eve somewhere near the approaching tween years I got a brilliant idea. My plan was to position my Lisa Frank diary next to Santa’s “reward,” (surely he’d see it next to the cookies) and ask for his autograph. Then and only then could I be certain he was real.
On Christmas morning, I awoke and before the fan fare began I darted to the diary. HE SIGNED IT….but wait a minute. I looked up and slowly my eyes met my father’s. It wasn’t a signature crafted by a jolly old man in a red suit- it was one drafted by a hand that reached for mine daily. One that taught me how to dribble a ball, and one that regularly set plates on the table at dinner time- it was my father’s handwriting.
Growing up I had the opportunity to see service. My mother constantly had people in her in-home beauty shop stay hours after their hair services were complete just to share in her goodness. She listens to people. She keeps their secrets and holds their hands. On more than one occasion we’ve made stops on our outings to pick up a spare dryer hose, and once even bra- simply because someone mentioned they needed it. She is a lifter of hands that hang down, a confidant, and the kind of friend everyone needs.
I remember as I reached my teenage years overhearing conversations between my parents that centered around students my dad observed at school (he’s a highschool teacher of nearly 30 years). Statements like, “where can we buy a pair of glasses for so-so?” or “I think so-so wears the same size of shoes as (insert someone we know)-we need to get her some new ones.” I even remember my father telling me to clean my room because one of his students needed a place to stay.
I grew up in a home where service was an opportunity that came in form of sunday dinners, delivering christmas trees, visits to see family and friends who could no longer leave their homes or hospital rooms and so many others. I grew up watching my parents serve and noticing many of the people who surrounded me serve. The best part? These acts were quietly done, without need for celebration or recognition.
On that December 25th, Santa Claus signed my diary. It wasn’t a man in a red suit accompanied with a sleigh and a herd of deer.
Santa Claus, rather, is the corner of our hearts where selfishness is extinct, where service lives, and the notion of being our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper is the very thing that keeps that corner beating. Santa Claus is the idea that all humankind is inherently good, if we can just look hard enough to find each individual’s inner light. With a world strung upside down and drowning in heartache, violence, and lies we need Santa Claus. We need hearts willing to heal other hearts. We need hands willing to lift other hands. We need truth. We need service. We need each other.
As a twenty-eight year old woman, I still believe in Santa Claus- because I believe in me. I believe in you. I believe in us.