Christmas came, and so did Santa. Despite the chaos of repair to our home it was a good celebration. Despite the lack of funds, the three children received what they asked for, much to their delight. Some of this satisfaction is due to the fact they don't ask for much. No TV for eighteen months reduces the exposure to materialism that sucks away at the values of society and places the emphasis on what you have, versus what you do or who you are.
There was a lot of conversation about Santa prior to Christmas. The three still wrote notes, to be picked up by St. Nicholas on his feast day, December 6th. He still came and got the notes. And left treats in their stockings in place of the notes. No coal, no sticks, just tangerines and sweets. These are good children. They are a tribute to their mother.
The notes had a few gift requests, and they also had something else. These notes to Santa, St. Nicholas, had pictures of the note writers and little sentences that while short, and childlike, said more than this, or any book, could ever say.
They said...."Santa, I still believe in you and I love you."
The curiosity over Santa didn't let up. Several times I was asked if he was real. I replied with the truth. Yes, he is real. Prepared to define this, I was never asked. But they began to speculate, and the first understanding of the Spirit world, which I believe is the Real world, the never-ending one, came into the mind of these three.
This world, the one that holds this page, and this print, and the things you see as you look up right now from this page, is only the shadow of reality, or as C.S. Lewis describes it--the Shadowlands.
Sometime this year we will talk about the Spirit of Santa Claus and good St. Nick. I will teach them how Real they really are.
After church services on Christmas Eve, we opened one present each, ate lots of good stuff: clams, shrimp, cookies.
About ten in the evening the children and I decided to go for a Christmas Eve walk. Poking around for coats and gloves and hats, the temperature having dipped into the twenties, we talked about Christmas Eve, and Christmas, and the magic. You know, The Magic.
"Christmas Eve is the most magical night of the year!" exclaimed Mara to her two brothers. Her smile, her tone, her glee said much more than the words.
There was no argument from the other two. Just bursts of agreement. The excitement was contagious. I could feel it. Smell it. Almost become it. The excitement of a little child on Christmas Eve. Pure.
We stepped outside.
The heavens were filled with stars. Where we live there are few houses, none within immediate view of our home (home mind you, not house), and cars seldom pass. It was just us, the pines, the great now-bare oaks and maples, and the stars.
We followed our normal walking path that takes us down to the sea. It was but a few minutes when things began to happen. Before I tell you what they were, I want to take you to the end of the walk. This is a writer's prerogative, to change the order of things.
As we chugged down the lane that leads us back to our home, greatly excited now about what had just happened (Don't worry, you'll find out), there appeared in the eastern sky..... Something.
To this day, we have never been able to confirm what it was. Let me try and describe it, my version, the kids' version, and Holly's version. Logan and Mara ran about two hundred yards to the house to get Mom and drag her out and up the hill to where we were. She was already in her pajamas, but I had to get "adult" confirmation.
Hanging just above the trees, was a...
Light? Star? Oscillation? Aberration? UFO?
Like a bright spotlight, this thing hung, no, it hovered over the trees in the eastern horizon. I thought at first it might be Sirius, it being the brightest star in the heavens, playing tricks with our eyes. But no, wrong time of year, wrong place in the sky.
It was a very bright star-like light that had an oscillating pulse to it, showing twinges of red and green.
One of us thought it was a UFO, the twins were sure it had something to do with Santa, and I, I just wondered if it was the star, you know, The Star, The Christmas Star.
For many moments we watched this great light in the heavens dance about over the tree tops. It never revealed to us what it really was.
We've never seen it since that magical night.
The best of all though, was earlier. Yes, back to the part of this letter where I took you to the end.
I think Noah was the first to spot Him. Streaking across the Christmas Eve sky. Santa. So fast you could barely focus. It wasn't long before Mara and Logan saw Him, too. They shouted with glee and confirmation.
"Nah! No way!" - I can hear you all saying this to yourselves right now. Doubts leaping at me across the currents of time and distance.
Well, I'm telling you, cross my heart and hope to die and go ahead and stick a needle in my eye, they saw him!
Yeah, really! Santa! In the sky! Ask any of my kids, they'll tell you. He was there.
There are people that would have tried to convince these children that they were seeing "things", meteors, perhaps.
I didn't even look up.
I didn't need to.
You see, I know He was there.
He came just to prove to my kids again, one more time, maybe even the last time for them for a long, long time, maybe until they have children of their own, that He was real.
And so do they.
I should know, I taught them.
Maybe you should take a walk next Christmas Eve. Late. Make sure you take a child. They can see much better.
And keep your eyes peeled!
The preceding was an excerpt from Clement Skygazer's new book Christmas Unwrapped.