On that first Christmas the angels said to the shepherds, “I bring you good news of a great joy.” That is what Christmas and Santa Claus is all about. You don’t believe in Santa Claus? Let me tell you a story.
It was a Christmas 8-yearold Mary would never forget— the Christmas she came to know that there really is a Santa Claus. It all began when her big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered, “Everybody knows that, you dummy!”
Mary stood frozen for a moment, “No Santa Claus!” Could such a thing be true? Shortly afterward she was on her bike tearing across town to her grandmother’s. Grandma always told the truth. Mary could depend on her to set things straight.
She found her grandmother in the kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies. “What’s wrong, child, she asked, Why are you crying? Through choking sobs Mary poured out the whole story. “No Santa Claus?” Grandma exclaimed, “Ridiculous! Don’t you believe it for a minute. That silly rumor has been going around for years. Let me get my purse and you come with me.”
“Where?” Mary asked, “Where are we going, Grandma?” Where turned out to be Massey’s General Store. It was a store that had just about everything. Grandma handed her a ten-dollar bill— that was a lot in those days. “Take this,” she said, “And buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you here in the car.”
Mary often went shopping with her mother, but she had never shopped for anything by herself. For a moment she stood there confused, wondering what to buy and for whom. She was just about wondered out when she remembered Bobby, the boy with the sad little face who sat behind her in Miss White’s second grade class.
Bobby didn’t have a coat. She knew because he never went out at recess. He said he had a sore throat, but they all knew he didn’t have a sore throat; he didn’t have a coat. That’s what she would buy, a coat for Bobby. She decided on a brown one. It looked real warm and had a hood. Bobby would like that.
“Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady at the counter asked as Mary laid down the ten-dollar bill. “Yes, Ma’am,” Mary said shyly. The nice lady smiled as Mary told her about how Bobby really needed a warm coat. She put the coat in a bag and smiled again as she wished Mary a Merry Christmas.
Back home, as they wrapped the coat in Christmas paper, a little tag fell out and Grandma quietly tucked it in her Bible. Next they wrote on it: “To Bobby from Santa Claus.” As they drove to Bobby’s house Grandma explained that from that time on Mary was one of Santa’s official helpers.
While Grandma waited, Mary slipped up on the porch, put the present down beside the door, knocked and then flew back to the car. They waited but a few seconds before Bobby opened the door.
It happened years ago, but for Mary the joy has never dimmed. She has never forgotten the surprise and happiness that flooded little Bobby’s face. In that moment she knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is a Santa Claus.
Mary still has her Grandmother’s Bible. Tucked inside is that price tag: $ 19.95.
And, now, may God bless each of you this Christmas, your home and family and all those you love. And may this Christmas be the most meaningful you have ever known as Christ is born anew in all our hearts. Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.