Late one Christmas Eve, I sank back, tired but content, into my easy chair. The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I sat back admiring the tree with all its decorations, I couldn’t help but feeling that something important was missing. Still, it wasn’t long before the tiny twinkling lights on the tree lulled me to sleep.
I don’t know how long I slept, but when I woke, I had a feeling that I wasn’t alone. I opened my eyes, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw Santa Claus himself standing next to my Christmas tree. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot just as the poem described him, but he was not the “jolly old elf” of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad, disappointed, and there were tears rather than a sparkle in his eyes.
“Santa, what’s wrong?” I asked, “Why are you crying?”
“It’s the children,” Santa replied sadly. “Teach the children.”
I was puzzled. What did he mean? “Teach them what?” I asked.
Santa’s kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. “Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas.”
Santa then reached into his bag and pulled out a tiny Christmas tree and set it on my mantle. “Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen, with its unchanging color, represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Its needles point heavenward as a reminder that mankind’s thoughts should turn heavenward as well.”
“Red,” said Santa, “is the first color of Christmas.” He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. “Red is deep, intense, and vivid. It is the color of the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. It is the symbol of God’s greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave His life and shed His blood for them that they might have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful Gift.”
Santa reached into his bag again and pulled out a shiny star and placed it at the top of the small tree. “The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise on the night that Jesus Christ was born. That star guided shepherds and wise men to the newborn King. His light guides those who seek it still today. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises, and that wise men must seek Him still.”
Santa then placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its one tiny flame brightened the whole room. “Teach the children,” whispered Santa, “that at one time candles were placed on the Christmas tree. Now strings of colored lights have taken their place. Christ is the Light of the world. He that follow Him shall not walk in darkness. He taught us also to let our own light shine for our fellow men, and to glorify God with our good works. This is what is symbolized when the twinkling lights shine on the tree like hundreds of bright shining candles, each of them representing one of God’s precious children, their light shining for all to see.”
Santa then found a silver bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. “Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues to ring for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep.”
Again Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red and white striped candy cane. As he hung it on the tree he spoke softly. “Teach the children that the cane represents the shepherd’s staff. The crook on the staff helps bring back sheep that have strayed from the fold. The red stripes remind us of his suffering on our behalf, for He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our inequities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.”
Santa then reached once more into the bag and removing a small gift, placed it under the tree. He pointed to the bow and said, “A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the spirit of brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied, as all of us should be tied together, with the bonds of good will towards one another. Good will forever is the message of the bow, and the gift, a gift of love.”
Santa looked about the room and again at the tree, His love and great feeling of satisfaction shone from his eyes.
One last time, he reached into his bag and brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh fragrant greenery and tied with a bright red bow. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains both green and red, the colors of Christmas, and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. Even its very shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ’s love. It is a circle without beginning and without end.”
Again, he repeated, “Teach the children.”
I asked, “But Santa? What about you?”
The tears were now gone from Santa’s eyes, and a smile broke over his face. “Why I am only a symbol myself,” he said. “Each year as Christmas approaches, children eagerly await my return. They wait with joyful anticipation longing for the joy, laughter, and celebration that comes on Christmas morning. The Savior, too, will come again. Angels and men will sing and rejoice together and celebrate the return of the Babe of Bethlehem, now crowned with glory as the King of Kings.”
“Teach the children.” he repeated. “Teach the children to look for His return with the same eagerness with which they wait for me.”
“Please, please,” Santa pleaded. “Teach the children.”
– author unknown