Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. I had just finished the household chores late at night, and was getting ready to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the living room. Much to my surprise, Santa Claus himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree, and whispered, "Shh. Don't be scared. It's all right."
I started to ask him what he was doing, but stopped in mid-sentence when I saw that his usual jolly manner was gone and he had tears in his eyes. He told me he was sad because children all over the world were not being taught the real meaning of Christmas.
He reached into his sack pulling out a small green Christmas tree. He said, "Teach the children that the evergreen tree remains green all the year round. Green is the colour of abundant nature around us and indicates the everlasting hope of mankind. God created trees to be of great service to people, providing wood to build homes, fires to keep us warm and to cook on, and paper to print books for us to learn from.
Santa reached into his sack again and pulled out a bright, shiny star, and said, "Teach the children the star was the heavenly sign of promise long years ago. God promised a Saviour for the world, and the star was a sign of the fulfilment of that promise. The countless shining stars in the night-sky still give us a reminder of that star so long ago telling of the birth of our Saviour.
Santa put the star on the top of the Christmas tree and took from his sack a glittering red ornament. He said, "Teach the children that red is the special colour of Christmas because it reminds us of the blood that was shed by our Saviour so that we could all gain Eternal Life, which is the greatest gift Heavenly Father can give us."
As Santa returned to his sack I heard a soft, tinkling sound and saw he had a bell in his hand. "Teach the children that in the old days animals were very valuable to people as they provided transport and food for them. They put a bell round the neck of each sheep or cow, so they could hear where they were if they got lost. In the same way God values all people, wherever they are, and they are never lost to Him. In some places church bells are rung on Christmas Day to proclaim the good news of this special day."
Once again Santa reached into his sack, and brought out a candle. "Teach the children that a candle was used in the old days to light the way so people could see where they were going. When it is dark we are afraid, but the light casts away our fears. Jesus came into the world and taught that He is the Light of the World. People used to put candles on Christmas trees, but nowadays we have coloured lights instead as they are safer."
Next Santa produced a candy cane. "Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. This was a strong stick with a curved end that could be placed around the neck of a sheep that had slipped down the hillside, so the shepherd could pull it up to safety. The candy cane represents the helping hand we should show to others, and reminds us that we really are our brother's keeper."
Reaching deep into his sack Santa pulled out a Christmas wreath and said, "Teach the children that the wreath symbolises the eternal nature of love. It never stops or comes to an end. It is one continuous round of affection. It is made up of many colours, and many different items, and shows how different we all are, but how important each one of us is to the whole creation."
Santa then took from his sack some tinsel and ribbon and said, "Teach the children that tinsel adds brightness to Christmas just as the many kindnesses we do for others brings brightness into their lives. The ribbon is tied into a bow to remind us that our lives are intertwined with each other, and the help we give others is constantly returned to us in different ways."
Finally, Santa patted his sack and said, "There will be many gifts in this sack each Christmas, but the greatest gift we can give, or be given, is love. Love takes time and effort from us to give to others in the way they need it, to bring their potential into being. Love is not an advertising gimmick, but something we learn to do, and we must teach this to our children."
With this, Santa waved goodbye and left the same way he had come in, saying as he went, "Don't forget to teach the children the real meaning of the symbols of Christmas." As I watched him go, I was sure that this would be the best Christmas ever.
-- Author Unknown.