As told by Gary Piper
This story is for kids of all ages who find it harder and harder to believe in Santa Claus. With this story I hope to keep a little spark of Santa in their lives yet at the same time it is my hope that they will always remember that Jesus is the reason not only for the Christmas season but all seasons. While it is written for kids of all ages I want to dedicate it to a baby who while born in a stable over two thousand years ago lives in my heart not only as man but as a small baby the shepherds visited so long ago.
God, thank you for loving me enough to come down and show me how to love others.
November 26, 2013
One night a couple of days before Christmas while I was home alone watching a movie about Santa Claus. (Even though I am 67 years old I still believe in him and watch nearly all the movies about him.) I heard a knock at the front door. Somewhat annoyed by the interruption I left my easy chair went to the door and opened it. Standing there was a little old man who reminded me of Santa Claus his long beard and hair were as white as snow. He wasn’t fat but he wasn’t thin either and if it weren’t for the way he was dressed he could have passed as Santa. Must be the movie, I thought.
“It’s really cold out here,” the little man said. “I’m very tired and cold. Could I come in a rest and get warm? I would really be grateful. Please?”
Something about him put me at ease and not thinking about all the dangers associated with allowing strangers to enter I said, “Sure come on in.” I was a little embarrassed that is was a kid’s movie I was watching. “Can I get you something warm to drink?”
“Some hot chocolate would be fine, but don’t go to a great deal of trouble,” He said still shivering. Noticing the movie I was watching he asked me, “Do you believe in Santa Claus?
Beginning to feel more than just a little embarrassed I began trying to figure out how I was going to explain myself to a total stranger that I really did believe in Santa. “Well I don’t believe Santa Claus exists like we do, with a physical body. I believe that Santa is a tradition at Christmas that lives in the minds of those that believe in him. He is a symbol of joy and happiness and part of the Christmas spirit, he is the spirit of giving,” I said feeling pretty confident I’d explained myself out of that one.
“Reach out and touch me,” he said.
Now I started to feel a little uneasy again about letting a total stranger into my house and wondered where he was going but I was curious so I cautiously reached out and touched him on the arm.
Looking me squarely in the eyes he began, “Well, I guess then all I am is a spirit that I don’t really exist. I guess what you see before you is alive only in your mind. Because, you see I’m Santa Claus.”
“Your who!” I exclaimed, trying not to laugh.
“I’m Santa Claus, but I’m not surprised at your reaction I get it all the time from adults. Many years ago you knew I was real and no one could tell you different. Don’t you remember lying in your bed on Christmas Eve when you lived on 20th street and hearing my sleigh bells pass over your house?”
“Yea I remember, but I also remember people making fun of me when I told them. To this day my folks remind me about it and everyone has a good laugh. Now I suppose you are going to tell me that really were you,” I said in a rather sarcastic tone.
“Yes, that was me in the flesh. Because people laughed at you did that stop you from believing in me?” he responded.
“No it didn’t,” I said emphatically.
“And how about all the years when you, your wife, and two boys were a young family and you thought there would be no Christmas presents because of financial hardships. Do you remember those? Were you ever disappointed?”
Quickly trying to access what was happening I blurted out, “No I have never been disappointed, but Santa Claus does not exist!”
“You know,” he continued, “Sometimes growing up has its disadvantages. When people grow up there are times when they stop believing in things that cannot be explained. To adults seeing is believing. To most adults I am a fable, a tradition, a fantasy, a jolly old man who stands on the street corner and begs for money, or a baby sitter when shopping. But I am real and I am standing in front of you in your own house!”
At first I thought that this was some kind of practical joke but the more I looked into his eyes the farther that idea faded. Then all the Christmas’ began filtering through my memory. I remembered laying in my bed at night and hearing those bells. I remembered the excitement I felt, I remembered being unable to sleep in anticipation of Christmas morning. I remembered never being disappointed. As I looked back I could see the difficulties we faced and realized those were the best of times even though they started out the worst of times.
Then I remembered those feelings of joy when our boy’s woke up Christmas morning to a great Christmas even with the financial hardships we faced. I remembered the tears that filled my eyes as I watched in wonder as the boys played with the toys that seemingly came from nowhere. I remembered the smiles on their faces as they thanked Santa for not forgetting them.
Then I thought about the year that my wife scrimped and saved every little bit of money she could so that she could buy me a Lazy Boy chair for Christmas. Things were so tight that year that all I could give her was a stick pin yellow rose. Those sure were some good years.
I don’t know what or when it really happened and I still can’t explain it. Suddenly it struck me this was Santa and he really did exist. But he wasn’t suppose to. He was right; my adult logic told me that Santa Claus was not a real person. I must be dreaming that’s it I’m dreaming!
Interrupting my puzzled thoughts he began, “You still don’t believe me do you?” he said. “But then as I said I’m not surprised most people when confronted with my reality find it hard to believe.”
“No please don’t misunderstand me I’m beginning to believe in you, but you’ve really thrown me a curve,” I found myself saying. “My adult logic tells me that there is no such person as Santa Claus. And it’s not because I don’t believe I just don’t understand, please help me to understand.”
Many times we adults refuse to believe something only because we lack understanding. I began thinking about all the different things people refuse to believe in, when really all they lack understanding. How many people refuse to believe in God because they just don’t understand or refuse to understand? I found myself in the same predicament, I really did believe in Santa Claus but I could not understand how he could be a person. I couldn’t understand how he could do everything the stories said he did.
“Do you live at the north pole? Do you have elves making toys? Can reindeer really fly,” I asked?
“If I said yes to each would you believe in me?” he responded.
“No I wouldn’t because I know that toys and other things come from stores. Even if reindeer could fly they could never fly fast enough to distribute anything in one night to the entire world. It may be possible for you to live at the North Pole, but its nothing but ice. No,” I said quite confidently, “I wouldn’t believe in you.”
“Those are childhood beliefs, whose purpose is to explain and introduce children to the unexplainable. Young minds are not really prepared to believe in what they cannot see. The Santa Claus seen at Christmas and the stories about me give me some sense of reality to young ones. As that image fades and those stories begin to become unbelievable they must learn the real story.”
“What is your real story?” I asked. “Please help me to understand.” I couldn’t really believe what was going on. Here I am sitting watching a fictional movie about a up until now fictional character and the next minute he’s sitting in my living room talking to me and to top it off I’m starting to believe him.
“I’m an Angel,” he began.
“Wait, wait,” I said interrupting him, “If you’re an angel how come you don’t look like one? You sure look like that Santa Claus there on television.”
“Appearing this way makes it easier for people to believe in me. Angels are gaining more exposure these days but the average person on the street would not believe anything I said. Perhaps if I continue you might begin to understand me and the legend of Santa Claus.”
“Of course, do go on,” I said, starting to really get into what was going on.
The little man began his story. “Before humans ever populated the earth Lucifer (now called the Devil) and a third of all the angels in heaven rebelled against God. I was one of them and after losing we were banished to the earth. Lucifer was very convincing; he is a master you know. He convinced us that God had asked him to hand pick each of us and told us that God wanted to test us. God was about to create his greatest creation, life forms in his own image and into each creation he would place a part of himself. These new creations would also be given right to choose for themselves to love him or not and this caused God great concern. Lucifer told us that God wanted to be sure his love was strong enough to withstand the possible rejection.”
“So, what Lucifer was telling you was that God wanted to be sure that this new creation would love him and no on else,” I said.
“That’s right, he also told us that if we angels rebelled and God’s love was strong enough to allow us that freedom then God would know that his love was perfect and his plans could continue,” tears began forming in his eyes. “There is one thing about God that is indisputable, He is a God of order, and He is at the top of that order. He telling us over and over he was number one and there was to be no other Gods. Unknown to us, at the time Lucifer’s plan was with our help he would try to place himself over God.”
Looking at the ceiling he continued, “When we began putting Lucifer’s plan into action it proved to be the beginning of the end for us. When God said He was God and there was no other he was right! He put that rebellion down in no time we never stood a chance. Lucifer lied to us, he had us believing that God was asking him for help and we believed him right up to the end. Boy was we wrong!”
“I guess angels and we humans have a few things in common don’t we,” I said, “Please go on.”
“But we did find out how much God loved us because He could have destroyed us but he didn’t. He told us that if we wanted Lucifer to be our god then he would give Lucifer a kingdom of his own where we could be his subjects. He then changed Lucifer’s name to Satan and banished all of us from heaven. In the back of my mind I had doubts about Lucifer right from the start but he made us feel more important than we really were. He convinced us that we were doing God a personal favor. Everyone likes to feel more important than they really are and Lucifer is very good at doing so,” he said.
Interrupting him I agreed, “And we still do and Satan is still a master at helping us to overpower our humility.”
“I know,” Santa continued. “When it came my turn to stand before God and account for my actions, my doubts gave way to reality. In response to His questions I explained what Lucifer had told me and how he had tricked me. But Lucifer denied saying anything he then accused me of giving him the idea. At that point I told God that I was sorry and repented however I still needed to suffer the consequences of my actions.” Tears filled the old man’s eyes as he said that because of our sins we were separated from heaven and sent to the earth.
Pausing for a moment to compose himself he continued, “My repentance included denouncing Satan and doing very thing in my power to spread the news of his evil nature. I talked to every angel I could but they were so wrapped up in themselves and what he was telling them that no one listened to me. He kept telling them that we would yet raise up an army and would overthrow God in time.
“We all anticipated and waited for that great moment when God would work his greatest work. Satan was also waiting get these new creations to follow him. But I was waiting to tell them not to make the same mistake I did. But Satan was far more powerful and craftier than I was so in the end Adam and Eve sinned. But from then on I made up my mind not to quit, so I set out to touch people’s lives as best I could by lifting their spirits through the gift of giving because God kept giving me his Spirit.”
Santa went on to say he has been giving gifts to kids and adults every day and not just on December 25 for nearly 6,000 years. I asked him what the greatest gift he would like to give was.
“The greatest gift I would like to give is for everyone to understand Christmas and hear my story. I would like everyone to see me as the giver of material things and that material things are only starting points that don’t last and only leave people wanting more and more. For some Christmas never goes beyond the material things, to them it is X-mas. But there are many things beyond the material, and I would like people to see Jesus as the giving and receiving of eternal things; things that are not of this world; things this world can’t supply; things that will even outlast the world. And if they follow Satan they will find themselves in a losing battle.”
“You sure are taking on a big task there. Our world is very materialistic. Some religious leaders say that you are one of the reasons Christmas has lost its real meaning. Tell me more.” I said.
“Well,” he started “This may seem a little like double talk but the greatest gift I have, and ever will give would be materialistic to you. I gave myself.”
Looking puzzled I said, “What do you mean you gave yourself?”
“Perhaps I should go on with my story. That will answer your question. May I go on?”
“Yes, Santa please do,” I felt a little strange calling him Santa but then he was Santa.
“Each time a baby is born I go the birth site and begin making a journal of the baby’s life. I make notes about the baby’s parents and other factors that will have an impact on the infant’s life. And at different stages in the baby’s life I update the journal so that when help is needed I can help to guide the young ones life.
Thinking about the way the world is today I asked him how much of an impact he thought he was having.
“Not very much in terms of numbers,” he said in a positive tone, but then I don’t deal in numbers. One is the most important number to me, and there are a great many ones out there. Anyway one clear night as I was making my rounds I noticed a birth-taking place in a stable. I thought it odd that someone would choose a stable as a birthplace especially with so many places to stay. I stopped to begin recording the birth and as I entered the stable I felt a strange peaceful feeling. I also noticed the animals were reacting differently to the humans who had invaded their home. It sounded almost as if they were making a beautiful lullaby. They reacted as if the new addition were theirs. At first the little one looked like any other new born infant but suddenly something touched my heart as it has never been touched before.”
Santa when on to tell me that the eyes are the windows of the soul by looking into the eyes of people he can tell a lot about them. He can tell if they have been good or bad just by the sparkle or lack of sparkle in their eyes. He can also tell if they are over burdened with difficulties.
With a smile on his lips he went on, “When I looked into the eyes of that newborn baby I knew that this was no ordinary birth. I had seen those eyes somewhere before but I couldn’t remember where. Suddenly I didn’t see the eyes of a baby I saw the eyes of a grown man, it lasted less than a heart beat but in that brief period of time I experienced eternity and I felt the baby seeing me. For the first time ever another person recognized my physical presence. Somebody had actually seen me! Animals had always seen me and were friendly but up until that point no human had. I was prepared for Mary and Joseph not to see me. But I was not prepared for what happened when I looked into the baby’s eyes. It was almost as if we were one and the power of that union shook me to my very soul. I knew that this person would change the world forever because somehow deep inside he changed me. Then I remembered that I had seen those eyes in heaven before the great battle, they were the eyes of God’s Son.”
Santa paused to be sure I was still paying attention. I was! He continued, “I felt I had a real love for children and adults, after all love is why I give them gifts. But then it hit me the real reason I was giving gifts was to be loved. Like everyone else I desperately needed to be loved. Try to picture yourself in a world where you see others but they can’t see you, a world where you can reach out and touch someone but they can’t feel your touch. A world where you can give things and see how it makes people happy, but you can receive nothing from them. Have you ever tried to reach for something you really wanted but it was just out of your reach? You struggle and you struggle, you stretch and you stretch but no matter what it always remain out of reach. There were times when was so lonely that I wanted to give into Lucifer just to have someone to talk to back to me.”
I tried to picture myself in his world but I couldn’t. I had been in places where people were all around and it seemed as if no one noticed me but when I made some gesture toward them they responded. There have been times when I have felt lonely and frightened but all I had to do was place to call for someone. To feel alone is among the worse experiences people can have.
Santa continued, “I always thought that there might be more to love then I had yet experienced. But coming from the baby was a love given to me, a love that I felt coming from someone and not my imagination. I was not giving anything, for the first time I was on the receiving end. Suddenly I realized that all I gave was things, but this little infant was giving love, unconditional pure love. More than anything that this tiny baby was loves in the flesh. And with him was an unseen power, yet the two were one and the same, love was the power and the power was love.”
“I began recording the birth and as I glanced a second time at the infant this time I saw a lamb, the purest one I had ever seen so white that the light coming from it hurt my eyes. Then right before my eyes the Lamb turned into a Shepherd, then into a Prince, then to a King, and then I saw him die on a cross. For an instant I thought I was seeing things. I wondered what was happening and what it all meant. But as I looked at the animals I noticed they were smiling at me as if they were saying it’s okay there was nothing wrong with me. Then I again felt the same sense of peace I felt when I first entered the stable.”
“Then I heard a voice that sounded as if it were coming from the heavens. It wasn’t real loud but it touched deep into my heart where the baby had touched me. But it was so soft I couldn’t understand what it was saying. Then it became so quiet I could hear the babies heart beating, it became so silent I could almost feel it. Never before had I witnessed such silence, such stillness. And again I heard the voice, yet I still could not understand it, and the world remained quiet. The third time the voice sounded and as I looked into the eyes of the child I could understand it. It seemed as if the world was shaking but I was the only one affected by what was going on. If I live a thousand life times I will never forget what that voice told me that night.”
At this point Santa paused for a minute or so before going on I could see tears forming in his eyes again and as he continued his voice was filled with emotion. It became so quiet I too could almost feel the silence. I could see the picture on the television but there was no sound. “You have just witnessed the birth of my Son. Just as a shepherd protects and leads his sheep out of danger and into places of peace where they may eat and drink freely, my Son will lead humanity. And just as a Prince grows to a King he will grow. And my kingdom will grow until the day when all kingdoms will flow into it just as all rivers flow into the oceans. Just as he will grow from a spiritual infant to a spiritual giant so will mankind.”
“As I began to think about what the Voice had told me I thought to myself there was no way I could give what this child gave me. Everything I gave would one day be of no use. How could I keep giving things that people would have no use? How could I keep giving children toys when he knew they needed more? How could I give a greater love then I was feeling? What gift could I give that was better than eternal life?”
“I thought it was time for me to quit after all my purpose in giving was to feel loved and now I felt a love like no other. If my purpose was to make people happy how could I make them happier than could the Son of God? I thought I should feel sad, after all I was giving up something I loved to do, but I felt strangely at peace.”
“As I finished my work and was getting ready to leave again I looked into the infants eyes and three words formed deep in my soul ‘Where’s my gift,’ the voice was saying to me. I didn’t know what to say, trying to gather my thoughts I paused. Again I heard the three words. Again I didn’t know what to say.
“You have been giving gifts to children for many years yet you have not given a gift to me,” it said.
“Lord, what possible gift can I give you? I am one who gives things and things cannot compare with the love that you give. I am ashamed because the only possible thing I have to give you that means anything to me now is my life,” I said.
“Your life is the only thing that means anything to me. I created all that you could ever touch, feel, smell, taste, and see through the power of my Fathers Spirit. I command all things, yet God gives all life the gift of freedom to choose Him or reject Him, so I cannot command you. Out of my love for you I have given you the greatest gift ever I have given you myself. In me you are given a second chance and you will once again sing with the angels.”
“Lord, I feel love as I have never felt it before so please tell me how can I keep giving things as gifts when the gift your gift of love is far greater than any I can ever give?”
“As you give your gifts take this message to them. Tell them you must give yourself to God and to others as well. You must love God with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength, and others as well. When you sin and separate yourself from God repent, come to Jesus for forgiveness and you will be made whole. Tell them that some of life experiences will try to defeat them and that I will be with them and strengthen them and they will not be defeated. The greatest gift you can give my people is to tell your story on how you overcame the powers of Satan and what I have come to mean to you.”
“As the everything filtered through my mind and settled deep in my heart I began to see that the greatest gift I had to offer was myself and my new found spirit. So with tears of joy in my eyes and joy in my heart I told the Lord I was small compared to him and all I had to offer him was my smallness.”
After another brief pause Santa continued, “I never wanted to leave the stable but I knew that there were other babies being born that night and I had to record their births as well. So as I readied to leave I glanced at the baby one last time this time he was sleeping how beautiful he looked.”
“As I flew over some hills I noticed some shepherds watching their sheep I thought I’d stop and tell them what had happened in the stable. After all that’s what the Christ Child had told me to do. So I told them Peace on earth and goodwill toward men for unto you born this day is Christ. You will find him in Bethlehem in a stable.”
“No sooner did I get the words out when it seemed as if the heavens opened up and all the angels living in heaven were there singing and praising God and his Son. It sure was good to see them again.”
“After the shepherds had left and all the angels had returned to heaven I was left alone in the hills. Suddenly deep in my spirit I began to hear a voice telling me of one more gift I would receive. That last gift the Christ child gave me was that as the celebration of his birth draws near I am allowed to talk one on one with one person and tell my story. You are that person this year. I know that what I have told you is hard to believe but I can assure you that it is the truth.”
“Well Santa, I do believe you. I must admit that a part of me still wants to see you as the Santa Claus I believed in as a kid. But I can assure you I will do my best to tell your story to as many people as I can. I would, however, like to wait until my grandchildren become a little older. It’s important for them to see you as the stories portray you until its time for them to change their beliefs.”
“I can’t ask for anymore than that. Well I guess its time for me to be going. I sure appreciate letting me into your home. Remember I’ll be back Christmas Eve only you’ll not see me. Goodbye my friend.”
“Goodbye Santa,” I said feeling sorry he couldn’t stay longer. As I got up to see him to the door I looked to the chair where he had been sitting but he wasn’t there. He was gone he just disappeared! I then heard the sound of bells as I did so many years ago.
“Thank you Santa.”