By Judy Reiss
Merry Christmas! Now I know that it isn’t quite Christmas yet but I think by the time you read this, it will be! And before I start to write another word, I want to make sure that I wish you all not just a merry Christmas but a safe and joyful one, too. We are so lucky to be able to gather family and friends together and celebrate this wonderful holiday that I don’t want to let it slip by without my good wishes to you all. So, let’s think about Christmas and who should and does actually celebrate it.
No longer is Christmas a day of celebration only meant to celebrate by devout Christians. Nope. In 1773-74 a nice gentleman brought the tale of St. Nicholas to America. Now for many years this saint was well known around the world. I don’t know what he was called then but I do know what he is called now and I find it fascinating. Let me share it with you.
In England he is St. Nicholas; in Belgium Sinterklaas or Père Noël; in Brazil Papai Noel; in Chile Viejo Pascuero, in China Dun CheLao Ren; in Netherlands Kerstman; in Finland Joulupukki; in France Père Noël; in Germany Weinnachmann; Hawaii Kanakaloka; in Hungry Mikas; in Italy Babba Natele; in Japan Hoteioshd; in Norway Julenissen; in Poland Sweity Mikolaj, in United Kingdom Father Christmas. Whew! That is some list but don’t worry there won’t be a test!
The point of showing you all those countries and to what they call Santa Claus was to show you that they celebrate this fantastic holiday and around the world, too. And a few of them put up a Christmas tree and some have other ways to decorate and celebrate however it appears that Santa Claus does visit children around the world. He leaves presents and trees in shoes that are left by the door and fills lots of stocking which are hung and waiting for him to appear. But wherever he goes it is important to see that he doesn’t really care what ethnicity or religion a child is. Santa is the part of Christmas that is for everybody and every child. Here in the United States, every store and every mall is decorated the minute Thanksgiving is over and every child knows that Santa is on his way.
You definitely don’t have to be a Christian to celebrate Christmas and be thrilled and anxious for Santa to arrive. However, there is another part of Christmas that is just as important as Santa Claus and that part is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. And going to church and celebrating with friends and family is a large part of that time to celebrate Christmas. Back in the day, the celebration of Christ’s birth was the most important part of Christmas and to many it still is. But times have changed and now it has become a day for children to rejoice with their family but also be on pins and needles waiting for Santa to come. Think about it, regardless of your religious beliefs, it is very Christian to embrace all religions and encourage them to allow their children to learn about this “jolly old elf” who if you have been a very good girl or boy will leave gifts for you, either under your tree or in your stocking. It is a magical time that should be look forward to with excitement and joy. It only lasts a while, but the anticipation and wonderment will last a lifetime!
For the first time in our 51-year marriage, we no longer have anyone who is waiting for Santa Claus! Nope everyone is older now and although even my 50-year-old son will be waiting for Santa Claus, I am not sure he actually still believes. But we are all gathering together at Polly’s house because she has the biggest room. Everyone that is except Adrienne and her family because Vail, Colorado is just too far to come, even though we would like her to and she wants to but clearer heads do prevail. We will eat and share presents until everyone is really pooped. And we will all talk about Santa to Nick who is 10 and our youngest and I am sure he will show us all what Santa brought him. Boy, I really love that.
So that is the Reiss Christmas and we will talk to those who aren’t there. I never really knew what Skype is but I do know that we can talk to Sebastian in New Zealand and see him at the same time. And although I cried the last time I spoke to him I promise not to do that at Christmas..
So, to you all a very Merry Christmas, to you and yours! May you have a peaceful and happy holiday and if you eat too much it is OK. After all Christmas only comes once a year.