There was once a time when Christmas as we know it, almost did not arrive. It was the year when the act of a little boy, without his knowledge, had a powerful effect on this great tradition we know as the Season of Giving – Christmas.
Tony is a bright, lovely boy of nine. He is a middle child, with an older sister and a baby brother. Their family is a happy one, with lots of love to go around. Tony loves Christmas and every year, he patiently waits for the time when Santa Claus comes to their house to give presents.
One day in church, Tony heard about Jesus giving them the best gift ever. He also learned that the real meaning of Christmas is not about receiving but rather, giving.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive,” the preacher intoned.
Tony thought of Santa Claus, who did nothing but make children around the world happy by giving and giving and giving some more. So, young as he was, he decided to change that and be the one to give something to Santa Claus for a change.
“It’s not fair for him to be giving and giving and we kids not giving him anything in return,” he thought. He could not wait for Christmas to come. He started making a list of all possible gifts to give Santa Claus.
He thought long and hard about what Santa Claus is like, so that he would get him the perfect present. He read books about where Santa lives and how he looks like, what he wears and just about everything about him.
Aside from reading, he also asked his mother and father, his teacher and friends, what they thought was the best present for Santa Claus. Some of his friends thought it unusual to be asking such a question.
“Why Tony, are you planning to reverse Christmas this time?” teased Randy, his playmate.
“I haven’t heard of anyone ever giving Santa anything,” taunted another playmate.
Tony ignored the jibes. Instead, he thought about how to give the present to Santa Claus. Would he just leave it on the mantelpiece, beside the glass of milk and cookies they always left for Santa? Would he write a letter to his old bearded friend as well? How about posting it?
“Oh!, it would be nice to hand the present personally to him,” Tony thought.
His next concern was how much to spend and where to buy the present. He tried to save every penny – the coins his parents give him when they go to the candy shop, the money from Grandma when they go visit once in a while. He also planned to ask a few more coins from Mom when it’s time to do the Christmas shopping.
At last, when Christmas was nearing, he asked his Mom to bring him along for shopping. He went to a lot of shops but alas!, he could not find a suitable present for someone whose life mission is to give away presents! He could not have guessed how daunting a task such as choosing Santa’s present would be.
Then, all of a sudden, a thought came to him. A glorious, wonderful, brilliant idea! He would write a poem for Santa Claus. Yes, that would be his gift to his hero! He will ask his father to help him put the poem in a frame and have it posted to Santa. Perhaps, it will inspire Santa Claus to make more children happy this particular Christmas.
That night, Tony was juggling ideas and thoughts around in his head all through supper. He was stringing beautiful words together to form lines and phrases to capture his lofty thoughts about who Santa Claus is to him. Surely, the old guy will be mighty delighted!
Lying in bed, his mind never stopped working. He could hardly get himself to sleep. He now had a title for the poem and the first two paragraphs. He will make it short and sweet and full of meaning. After all, a young boy like him only had simple thoughts and a simple message.
Meanwhile, up in the North Pole, where Santa’s team of elves are busy assembling and wrapping and checking Santa’s list twice and thrice, Santa Claus is sitting forlorn in his usual chair that rocks and plays a melody by the fire. Mrs. Claus is like a bee hovering over him, handing him a mug of steaming coffee to chase away the cold, adjusting the blanket on his knees, and rubbing Santa’s back, reassuring him that this Christmas will be another success just like the thousands of Christmasses in the past.
Santa Claus believed his dear wife, and yet, he knew that he is not well. He looked back on all those years when he enjoyed flying high in his sleigh bearing all the goods boys and girls have been dreaming of all year round. Yet, right now, something is bothering him. His spirit is not quiet within him. His heart is not at all delighted at the thought of making children happy once again.
Mrs. Claus suggested that they call Mr. Elf Ringleader to inquire about what is troubling Mr. Claus. Mr. Elf Ringleader has a gift to see beyond what is visible. He also has the ability to inquire of the heavens about what is troubling his fellow creatures.
At once, Mr. Elf Ringleader was summoned to the Claus residence. Upon entering, he immediately sensed something wrong in the atmosphere, as if a heavy weight was bearing upon his spirit. When he saw Mr. Claus seated and looking rather out of his usual character, he soon realized what was wrong.
The winter witch is at work! Her spell is working against the good intentions of Santa Claus and his entire workforce of family, elves, and reindeers. This spell makes one despair when there is nothing to despair of, distressed when everything is fine and miserable when the world is as rosy as can be.
Mr. Ringleader solemnly declared what he thinks is the impending doom of the Claus dynasty. Mr. Claus, and all his forebears, carried on the noble tradition of giving and sharing during Christmas time. This tradition goes centuries back. Thanks to the winter witch, this might just be the end of such a beautiful and selfless practice.
“What should we do?” asked Mrs. Claus, her face the picture of absolute distress.
She knows how much gift-giving means to Mr. Claus. He is nearing his retirement, and will soon pass the reindeer rein to their oldest son. Surely, it will break his heart to see the doom of this great family tradition in his watch. What about the future Claus generations? What will life mean to them without doing what they were always meant to do?
As she was pondering on these thoughts, she could hear Mr. Ringleader say still in that solemn voice, “The spell is profound in its damaging effect but it takes such a simple act to break it. Mr. Claus must receive a gift from a pure heart that gives selflessly in order to reverse the effects of the winter witch spell. He had been doing the giving all his life and this time, there must be some sort of giving towards him to revive his flagging spirits and save Christmas.”
“Oh! how can this be possible? There has never been anyone who gave us any gift! Oh! this is not happening.
Are we doomed forever to a life of no purpose?” wailed Mrs. Claus. She can imagine a bleak future with nothing else to do and no one to make happy.
On such a sad note, Mr. Ringleader departed from the Claus residence. Before going to bed, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, together with everyone with them in their home, prayed together for a miracle.
Back in Tony’s house, it’s almost morning. He arose early to put his poem on paper and polish it one last time. At last, it is now finished. He went to his father who was reading the morning paper over a piping hot mug of coffee and toast lathered with thick butter and marmalade.
“Father,” the boy hesitated a little bit. “Would you mind if I ask you a big favour?”
“Of course I don’t mind, Tony,” his father answered. “What can I do for you? Just don’t ask for the moon,” he managed to jest.
“Remember what the Pastor said one Sunday about giving as the real essence of Christmas? Well, I have decided to give something to Santa Claus for a change.”
“That is a noble thought, Tony. I am mighty proud of you for coming up with such a wonderful idea! I can imagine how happy Santa will be to receive a present.”
“Do you think so, father?” asked the little boy, his face animated and aglow.
“I honestly think so, my son,” his father beamed with pride.
“Can I leave this poem that I wrote for you to put in a frame and post it to Santa Claus today, then? His address is at the back of this paper.”
Having been assured by his father, he kissed him goodbye and went back to his room to prepare for school.
As Christmas approached, Tony was beside himself with excitement.
A week later, back at the North Pole, an excited elf was running frantically to the house with a package in his hand. He had just come from checking the mail box for some news about more toys that they ordered for Christmas. While the winter witch spell is still at work, they were still hoping against hope for the miracle they prayed for to happen. So work continued in Santa’s workshop as boxes upon boxes are filled with presents, lists are checked twice and then thrice and more sleighs packed with more boxes.
“Mrs. Claus! Mrs. Claus! There is a package for Mr. Claus,” cried the elf. “I have a delightful feeling this is the miracle we have all been waiting for.”
“Oh, come on, my dear elf. Contain yourself, will you?” chided Mrs. Claus. “Mr. Claus is still in bed and he is likely to have breakfast in the room so let us be careful not to rouse him unnecessarily. He was unable to sleep well last night, that’s why.”
While saying this, Mrs. Claus was busy turning the box over to check who it came from. Then, her hands stilled as she read the return address: Tony O’Connor,
She thanked the elf and quietly made her way to where Mr. Claus was lying down. He heard her approach and was propped high on his pillows when Mrs. Claus entered their room. At once, Mr. Claus’ eyes went to the package and he held out his hands eagerly to receive it. Mrs. Claus detected a slight trembling of those gnarled, lovely hands of his.
Very tenderly and lovingly, Mr. Claus unwrapped Tony’s present and as he read the poem, tears ran down his cheeks. Ironically, as he was crying and weeping for joy, he could feel his strength and vigour returning. There was an apparent lifting of a heavy load off his chest. The air seemed fresher, the surroundings brightening up. This is it! This is the miracle they prayed for, and it came through the simple gift of a little boy who did not know what to give but gave something of himself anyhow.
This is Tony’s poem for Santa:
All these years you gave to kids
Made them happy with your gifts
Your arrival we dream all year
Your Ho!ho!ho!’s we want to hear.
This Christmas I’m being good
I want to give, as you would
A gift to say thank you
For all the good you do.
Christmas is for giving
It’s a time for love-sharing
Though you give and give to kids
A single gift you never received.
This Christmas I’m mighty glad
Am grown now, a young lad
I will give you the best I can
Thank you, Santa, you’re my man!
And so, that year, Christmas went on as usual. Santa Claus did his usual round of gift-giving on Christmas eve and made thousands of children happy and loved. When he came to Tony’s house, he wept more tears of joy as he carefully and lovingly filled Tony’s stockings with Christmas goodies.
Before sleeping that night, Tony was so happy thinking that he made Santa feel appreciated this Christmas. Little did he know that he was the real hero.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
MARIA TERESA BANIAGA is an excellent writer having graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the country – University of the Philippines. She is right now in the UK with her family, and in spite of work and her parenting duties, she is still, able to maintain two blogs: HotMomma and Pinoy Around the World. I admire this woman a lot and I bow to her writing prowess!
“HotMomma is a mother of two wingless angels, married to a wonderful man for more than 12 years already and currently based in England. An aspiring writer, she dreams of one day publishing bestsellers about amazing stories of people she meets along the way. Meanwhile, days are spent looking after the boys and the home, where she creates and keeps a haven for the whole family. An avid cook, a health enthusiast, a driven mom and wife to be the best to those who matter most to her.”
Need I say more? Visit her blogs and read more about her interesting, personal adventures.
This story has also been published at Helium.com
N.B. THE STORY MAYBE “OFF” SEASON, BUT THE MESSAGE WOULD STILL BE THE SAME FOR ANY TIME OF THE YEAR! SHOULD I GREET YOU MERRY CHRISTMAS IN ADVANCE, FOR YEAR 2009?