Expert Commentary: One Explanation of Santa Claus

It's nearly Christmas, and the world is shining like a great bright star. What a child wants for Christmas has been jotted down and sent home. The reindeer faces are still on the classroom door, the mom-dad gifts are made and ready to go home, the smells and tastes of Christmas hang in the air and in the mouth, and the mystery of what it's all about takes rough shape in a child's mind.


"How does he do it?" You ask softly beginning to talk about Santa to a group of fidgety children.


I began to tell the children about the third century man, Nicholas who cured children's skin diseases, who raised three children from a pickle barrel, gave to the poor, served as a bishop, grew old and died just like any man does.


 “What do you want, Nicholas,” said God the Father as Nicholas entered the pearly gates. “You have served me well, so now it’s time for me to grant you a favor.”


Nicholas didn't have to think very long. "I want to go back and visit the children," he said quickly. "I shall miss them very much, and I want to check out that they are OK, every once in a while," or so the story goes.


"Every child?" asked God with a broad smile.


"Oh, yes," said Nicholas with a very serious face. "Some of them suffer a lot, and I just want to know who needs what when and where."


 “I will grant that,” said God, “You may go to every child every year on my birthday.”


"Mmmm," said Nicholas, "Since it's your birthday, God, I will take them all a little gift."


"Every child?"


"Yes, I think so."


So between God and Nick, they decided to set up shop at the North Pole, simply because nobody lives up there to bother all the work he set out to do. You know, toy making and game making and doll stitching, and what have you.


"You'll need a wife this time," said God and so Mrs. Claus came to live with Nichaolas, and Nicholas was given a whole battalion of elves, known as elvises to make the toys and help Santa distribute them.


I know all about this because my son Brendan visited Santa’s shop one summer when his submarine cut up through the ice and landed at the North Pole. I have a souvenir of water to show for all his trouble. I had it blessed of course, and it graced the building when Fr. Cassian came fromItaly to bless the building, but that’s a whole other story. 


Anyway, Brendan met with Santa and had tea with him and Mrs. Claus and was told the whole long story which was 17 centuries long. While Santa was talking, Mrs. Claus made reindeer cookies which she said were the elves favorite. She dips the antlers into chocolate.


“So, how does Santa do it?” I inquired again of the children staring at me with curious expressions. “Well,” I continued, “He has a huge sled like a space ship, and it’s driven by the megadeer. They do supersonic speeds and can stop on a dime. The space sled has a room for every town in the world and the elves work very hard to keep track of who gets what.”  This is all very important because the children need to know that each toy they get from Santa was designed just for them.


"So why does the sleigh look so small in the picture books?" asked a child.


"It's perspective," said I casually. "When you look up and see a plane, it looks a lot smaller up there than down here parked on the tarmac. It's the same thing. Santa flies really high so he can go really fast."


It was a whole story without a single fidget. The smart kids really honed in on the details. When you add the little personal touches to a story for children, they eat it up – tomorrow we'll have reindeer cookies and a story about Mrs. Claus.