TEACH THE CHILDREN
Just a day before Christmas I had a strange visitor. This is how it happened . . .
I had 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 of the front room, and to my surprise, Santa Claus himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree.
He placed his fingers over his lips so I would not cry out. “What are. you doing...” I started to ask, but the words choked up 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 knew.
He then answered me with a simple statement of “Teach the Children.” I was puzzled. What did he mean. He anticipated my question and with one quick movement brought a miniature toy bag from behind the tree.
As I stood there in my night shirt bewildered, Santa said again, “Teach the children.” My perplexed expression still showed in the near darkness.
“Teach them the old meaning of Christmas--the meanings that Christmas nowadays has forgotten.
I started to say, “How can I...” when Santa reached into the toy bag and pulled out a brilliant shiny star.
“Teach the Children, the star was the heavenly sign of promise long ago. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was a sign of the fulfillment of that promise...the great star of the east. The star now reminds us of God̓s love for mankind and of the fulfilling of his promise. The countless shining stars at, night—— one for each man——now show the burning hope of all mankind.”
Santa gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew from the bag, a glittering red Christmas tree ornament.
“‘Teach the children, red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all people by the Savior. Christ gave his life and shed his blood so that every man might have God̓s gift to all, eternal life. Red is deep, intense, vivid——it is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God.”
As Mr. Claus was twisting and pulling another object out of his bag, I heard the kitchen clock begin to strike twelve. I wanted to say something but he went on.
Teach the children,” He said as the twisting and pulling suddenly dislodged a small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantle and gently hung the red ornament on it. The. deep green of the fir tree was perfect background for the ornament. He said,” Here is the second color of Christmas. The pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round. This depicts the everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All the needles point heavenward——symbolic of man̓s returning thoughts toward heaven.
“The great green tree has been man̓s best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him, made beauty for him, and formed. his furniture.
Santa̓s eyes were beginning to twinkle now as he stood there. Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound. As it grew louder and louder, it seemed like the sound of long ago.
“Teach the children, that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring for man to return to the fold--it means guidance and return, it further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. Who is there among you if his son ask for bread would give him a stone?”
As the soft sharp sound of the bell faded into the night, Santa drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny flame caught an eerie glow about the darkened room. Odd shaped in shadow slowly danced and wove upon the walls.
“Teach the children,” whispered Santa, “that the candle shows man̓s thanks for the star of long ago. Its small light is the mirror of starlight. As first candles were placed on the Christmas tree--they were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. Safety now has removed the candles upon the mantle and the colored lights have taken over in that remembrance.”
Santa turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from under the tree. He pointed to the large ribbon bow and said, “A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied as man should be tied, all of us together, with the bonds of good will toward each other. Good will forever is the message of the bow.
Now my mind began to wonder what else old Santa might have in his bag. Instead of reaching in his bag, he slung it over his shoulder and began to reach up on the Christmas tree. I thought he was hungry as he reached for a candy cane purposely placed high on the tree. He unfastened it and reach out toward me with it.
“Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherds crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep to the fold. The candy cane represents the helping hand we should show at Christmas time. The cane is the symbol that we are our brothers̓ keepers.”
Santa then paused; he seemed to realize he should be on his way. Tomorrow would be his big day. As he looked about the room, a feeling of satisfaction shone in his face. He read wonderment in my eyes, and I am sure he sensed my admiration for this night. He was his old self as he approached the front door. The twinkle in his eye gave Santa away; I knew he wasn̓t through yet. He reached into his bag and brought forth a large holly wreath. He placed it on the door and said, “Please teach the children, the wreath symbolized the eternal nature of love; it never ceases, stops or ends. It is one continuous round of affection. The wreathdoes double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It should remind us of all the things of Christmas. Please teach the children.”
I pondered and wondered and thrilled with delight,
As I sat and viewed all those symbols at night.
I dozed as I sat in the soft candle light
And my thoughts were of Santa and all he made right.
To give and to help, to love and to serve.
Are the best things of life, all men can deserve.
Old Santa Claus that jolly fat elf.
Is the very best symbol of Christmas itself.
He̓s the sign of the gift of love and of life
The ending of evil the ceasing of strife.
His message to me on this pre-Christmas night,
Has opened a treasure of deepest insight
The one thing on earth we all ought to do,
Is this teaching of children the right and the true.