Just a week before Christmas I had a 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 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.
The words choked up in my throat, and I saw that 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 bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children. Teach them the real meaning of Christmas. The meaning of Christmas that nowadays has been forgotten."
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it before 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 the fulfillment of His promise.
He then reached into his 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 removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love Christ showed for us. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.
He then pulled from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. Teach the children that I, Santa Claus, symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December.
He then brought out a HOLLY LEAF. Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent the blood that He shed for us.
Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said, "Teach the children that God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life." (John 3:16) 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 always give gifts in the same spirit of 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 staff helps to bring strayed sheep back to 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 the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will."
Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should bring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.
Santa looked around and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw that the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, TEACH THE CHILDREN the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, Our Lord, Our God, and Savior.