By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Much has been made in the press about the second grade teacher in upstate New York that told her class that there was no Santa Claus. Apparently people are so angry that she is receiving threats. As boneheaded as her move was, I don’t feel angry with this teacher; I feel sorry for her. She obviously lives in a very exacting world, where Christmas is cut and dried and allows no room for the magic that occurs each year. Of course there is a Santa Claus! Some may call it “Christmas spirit” but each year – if we’re lucky – it enriches our lives.
Christmas is a sentimental time and like many people I’ve been reflecting about Christmases past the last few days. I was fortunate to grow up (and still be) in a wonderful family that more than gets along … my brothers and I actually like being together. At our house, we had LOTS of magical Christmases. Our dad was a warm, wonderful, funny person who was in his element at Christmas with his bow tie that looked like holly and his infectious laugh. In later years we also came to appreciate the gin ice cream fizzes that he fixed every Christmas morning! I miss him especially at Christmas but know that his spirit lives on whenever our family gathers together.
As I’ve grown older I’ve found magic in finding the perfect gift for my husband or kids and watching their faces light up when they open it. And just the other day I found it while making Christmas cookies for our grandsons. It is there for all of us, usually in the small moments and memories, and makes each Christmas a time of appreciation of those we hold close.
I wish that teacher had received my friend Cheryl Ortenburger’s Christmas letter this year, for she captured the essence of Santa perfectly in the following paragraph:
I believe that Santa Claus not only represents innocence, but is the embodiment of hopes and dreams. He is the epitome of selfless giving. Who does not want to personify that selfless image and be a part of making someone’s wishes comes true? Of course, we all do! Hence the race with the calendar and our yeoman’s efforts to find THE gift that will bring a smile to that special someone’s face. We do this in the name of Hanukah, or Christmas, or Santa, or whatever the cultural or religious motivation. I think Santa brings out the best in us, draws us together, and unites us in spirit. Kids all over the world know who Santa is and excitedly await his arrival. Although Santa has been accused of being a little commercial at times, who can help but love the jolly old elf, with the twinkle in his eye, and corncob pipe? I think Santa represents the best part of us. However we chose to celebrate, let’s follow the example of Santa and find the best in ourselves and see the best in others.
I wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a joyous 2012. And mostly, I hope no one dares to tell you that there is no Santa Claus.
Morning News in Verse, Christmas 1971