December 21, 2007

Christmas Supplement

Children teach Santa about true meaning of Christmas

By Frank Wiseman (Special to The Criterion)

I have many great Christmas memories, but this one has a special place in my heart.

I have dressed up as Santa Claus each Christmas for 39 years, and visited schools, churches, an orphanage and ­private homes.

It was Christmas morning in 2001. I live in Floyds Knobs, and at the time my only two grandchildren lived in Franklin, Tenn. Caleb was almost 4 and Katie was 15 months old.

I had driven to within an hour and a half of their house on Christmas Eve and spent the night. I left there at 4:30 a.m. so I would be standing beside the tree as they awoke on Christmas morning.

I arrived and—as arranged in advance with my son and daughter-in-law—let myself in. I placed the presents under the tree and sat in a chair to await the sound of tiny footsteps descending the staircase.

It was not long before I heard Caleb say, “Mommy! Mommy! Santa is still here!”

As they entered the room, I acted as if I was startled. I told them that I must have fallen asleep, and that I hoped that I did not wake them up.

Caleb assured me that if I had then that was quite all right.

I got down on one knee and started handing out gifts. I helped Katie with the wrappings on her gifts then I sat each one on my knee and told them that I wanted them to take good care of their presents, and to do what their Mom and Dad told them to do, and to be good and I would come to see them next year.

Then I said my farewells and started toward the door. That is when it happened.

“Santa,” Caleb said. “Katie and me wants to show you what we did yesterday.”

He took one of my hands and Katie took the other, and they led me to the kitchen. There on the counter was a cake that I could see looked like they had indeed helped to decorate with icing.

As we got closer, I could see that it had “Happy birthday, Jesus” written on it.

Caleb told me that he, Katie and Mommy made Jesus a birthday cake.

This old Santa got a tear in his eye and a lump in his throat. Through all the glitter and glamour and the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas, my son and daughter-in-law had taken the time to make sure that their children knew the true meaning of Christmas.

That three-hour drive home by myself on Christmas morning gave me time to do a lot of thinking about how proud I am of my family.

My wife is a nurse and she was working so that the nurses with younger children could be home with them on Christmas morning.

I was proud of knowing that my grandchildren were being taught what and why we celebrate at this time of year.

This Santa’s rosy checks were not red from the cold, but from the tears of joy that rested upon them all the way home.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! Happy birthday, Jesus!”

(Frank Wiseman is a member of St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish in Floyds Knobs.) †

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