Santa and the Magical Season
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Contributor: Peter C. Kelly, President and CEO at United Way Fox Cities
One of the most vivid memories of my childhood comes to mind every year around the holidays. Santa and his elf, Brownie, would pay a visit to our house on Christmas Eve. Not so unusual you’re thinking, but it was the most magical time of the year. Let me set the stage.
My grandparents would be at our house for dinner. Afterwards everyone would gather in the living room around the Christmas tree. At some point, the lights would be turned off leaving only the Christmas tree to illuminate the room. This was the signal to my five younger siblings and me that something special was about to happen. We would all talk in whispers so as to not miss hearing the jingle of bells outside. As soon as we heard that sweet sound, the children went scurrying for a hiding place while the adults sat motionless on the comfortable furniture.
Into the dimly lit room walked Santa. He was not the large, booming, HO-HO-HO image in all the media. He was of average build, wearing a real red and white wool outfit; he spoke barely above a whisper. Brownie, the elf, would tiptoe in behind him, finger across her lips as if to make sure she wouldn’t utter a word…and she never did.
Santa would stand in front of the tree and marvel at its beauty. Then he’d begin, “Brownie, we’re in the Kelly house.” A tingle would rush through my body wanting to scream, “Yes, he found us,” but I would sit in silence as Santa continued. He would begin reading the letters my sisters, brother and I had sent to the North Pole a few weeks earlier. “Yeah, he got it!” I would say to myself. By the time he was through reading my letter aloud, the horse that I wanted desperately just five minutes earlier was now an afterthought. Although my parents tried, it was Santa who convinced me. After reading my letter he looked out the window into the night air and said to Brownie, “Keeping a horse in the city seems unfair for such a spirited, magnificent animal." He was right; I didn’t need a horse. And so it went as he read the letters from Krystine, Molly, Jenna, Tony and Jane.
As Santa read to Brownie in a hushed tone, he would gaze around the room, never seeing an adult. When he was done, he would gather Brownie to his side and tell her they had better keep moving so they could come back late at night. Santa would stand before the tree full of ornaments and talk solemnly about the true meaning of Christmas. He spoke so seriously about the importance of giving rather than receiving; about working together as a family for the benefit of everyone. Then, barely audible, he would bow his head and say a prayer, blessing our home and all the children within. Brownie would take one last look around the room, then begin to tiptoe out into the dark of night with Santa immediately behind. We would hear sleigh bells and gradually the sound would fade. Nobody moved. We sat, adults and children, thinking about the magic we just witnessed.
The magic of the season has not tarnished over the years. I still believe! I believe in the message Santa shared and I know that it still applies to my family today. I also know that in the “bigger picture” it also applies to our community. When we give of our heart and work together, magic can happen.
Best wishes for a magical holiday and happiness throughout the New Year.