Sunday, December 31, 2006

santa's last gift

when and how do we stop being santa to our kids?

this year was the first year that our 4 year old roque was really aware of santa's "presence". he thought hard and long about what he would ask from him. finally on christmas eve, he wrote the letter to him asking for a "green and orange watch" and stuck it to the main door. he even wanted to stay up until santa came.

this year was also the year that we decided that our 11 year old arianna was too old for santa. although she wrote santa that she wanted a tablet for christmas, we didn't know if she actually still believed in him. we felt she knew but maybe was just faking it to get more gifts. ha! you know how kids could be too smart nowadays... so how to go about having santa "sign off" from her was a dilemna until i came across a story about how santa taught kids the real meaning of christmas. this year, santa's last gift to arianna was this special story.

Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room, and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree.
He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.
"What are you doing?" I started to ask him

The words choked in my throat, as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement, "TEACH THE CHILDREN!" I was puzzled: What did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree.

As I stood there bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the Children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that a now-a-day Christmas has forgotten!"

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it on the mantle. Teach the Children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind. All the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven.

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. Teach the Children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of that promise.

He then reached into the bag and pulled out a CANDLE. Teach the Children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.

Once again he reached into his bag and then removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. Teach the Children that the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.

He then pulled out from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. Teach the Children that Santa Claus symbolizes the generosity and good will we feel
during the month of December.

He reached in again and pulled out a HOLLY LEAF. Teach the Children the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent blood shed by Him.

Next he pulled out a GIFT from the bag and said, "Teach the Children that God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. Teach the Children that the wise men bowed before the Holy Babe and presented Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We should give gifts in the same spirit as the wise men."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. Teach the Children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the shepherd's staff helps bring back strayed sheep from the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper.

He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. Teach the Children that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang 'Glory to God in the highest, on earth, peace and good will.'

Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. Teach the Children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of a bell, it should bring people to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.

Santa looked at the tree and was pleased. He looked back at me
and I saw the twinkle was back in his eyes.

He said, "Remember, Teach the Children the true meaning of Christmas, and not to put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the ONE WHO IS, and I bow down and worship Him, our Lord, our God.

JESUS CHRIST is the reason for Christmas! Rejoice!

and i signed it "love always, Mr. and Mrs. Santa". for her, there was no mistaking who mr. and mrs. santa were.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

smelling the food of christmas

it's the 24th of december and i have just come from the last and ninth day of the simbang gabi. yes!!! i did it... i completed the nine-day novena masses after not having gone to simbang gabi for the past twelve years. that's as long as i have been married to my husband. please don't ask me why but you can do the math.

it is the day before christmas and i can smell the food of christmas. it has been a theme christmas eve dinner for the past five or so years now. this year, it will be dimsum! with crab and corn soup, peking duck, noodles, buchi, almond gulaman and lychees. mmmmm.....

it's been quite a hectic two months or so approaching christmas. i am constantly thrown into the pressures of work at the hospital as well as home concerns and responsibilities with children just as i am all year round. and this time of the year is going unbelievably haywire with the must-go social events, gift-hunting and gift-giving. of all years, i can say that the days this time of the year have been one humongous blur because of the schedule clutter which has prevented me from feeling and enjoying as i should, the christmas that should be in the air.....

except during simbang gabi..... my saving grace. yes, thanks to this, it has made me feel christmas-y especially in the mornings. every 4 am, i would get up and wake up my mom, get dressed and drive with her to church. the homilies were especially good. there were many wonderful reflections from the bishops and priests. after mass, mom and i would sit around the breakfast table and chat endlessly about various things. that was extremely good. i didn't realize how much i missed that. the past nine days allowed me to bond with my mom, who started me in this tradition as a child. the past nine days prepared me spiritually for what is to come tomorrow.

indeed, i can smell, see, feel, almost touch and taste, the food of christmas. not the dimsum nor the duck. but real food, which is jesus christ, our savior. his birth reminds me of god's original blessing when he created us and the beautiful world around us. his birth reminds me of god's perfect love and our responsibility to love the same. his birth reminds me of god's powerful presence in our lives as he constantly guides, challenges and rewards us. he is the the one and only food that could sustain us, and fill us more than enough so we have some more of him and his love to share and sustain others.

may his joyous birth remind you of the same.