by Ken Rolheiser
Believing in Santa and the Christ Child

    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer began in 1939 with Robert May, a department ad writer. The Department Store Montgomery Ward commissioned May to create a story about an animal for a coloring book. 
    However, May’s story took a tragic turn. Bob’s wife Evelyn was dying of cancer. Bob was left with four-year-old Barbara and medical bills.
    Barbara loved reindeer at the local zoo, so Bob chose Rudolph, a little reindeer with a shiny red nose. Even though the other reindeer teased Rudolph about how he was different from them, Rudolph dreamed of one day leading Santa’s sleigh.
    Bob tested his ideas on Barbara and polished his story. Though Evelyn died before the story was finished, Rudolph became a symbol of hope for Bob and Barbara.
    The story of Rudolph was published in 1939 and became an instant success. May received the rights to the story which went on to become a song and a movie. Bob May went down in history.

Believe in yourself in the hardest of times is a powerful lesson to us all. Believing in Christmas, in Santa and in the gift of the Christ Child is the lesson that has gone down in history.

Yes, Virginia, I believe in Christmas, in Santa and in the Christ Child. Christmas is an abbreviation for Christ’s Mass, which is a celebration of all that the baby Jesus came into the world to achieve. Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s love.

For many, Christmas is a time of sorrow, a time when they do not have money even for food. That is where we and organizations like the Salvation Army and Food Banks come in. Advent is the time to prepare our hearts for Christ’s presence in them. Alms giving and fasting and sharing what we have with the less fortunate is Christian action.

Christmas is a time to celebrate family and love and all God’s goodness. Cards in the mail and turkey dinners and gifts are wonderful. Shouting “Merry Christmas!” to our neighbors in the street is part of this natural joy that comes from a heart that is right with God.

The real story of Christmas unfolds with the Gospel of St Luke 2:4-19. Jesus is born. Angels sing and shepherd’s see visions. Wise men come from afar to adore a baby in Bethlehem. And all our Christmas carols retell the story and recapture the joy.

Santa Claus, a short form of Sinter Klaas, from the Dutch stories popularized in 1809 by Washington Irving became recognized in a New York minute. Irving referred to St Nicholas as the patron of New York city in The History of New York.

St Nicholas is said to have given away his wealth helping others. The most famous story has him providing dowry to save three sisters who were being sold by their father. The love we share by the giving of gifts is reminiscent of St Nicholas and every Santa since.

The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love: "God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life." God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world but to save it. (John 3:16-17).

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