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Our answer to the Christmas debate
13 December 2011 - 6:54pm
Have you been following all the fuss? About whether it's a Christmas tree or a "holiday tree"? Not a terribly new debate, sadly.
We had to go back seven years to find this, but thought it was worth dusting off. Back in 1998, we were approached by a national newspaper chain to write a "counter-point" opinion piece about one man's push to have Christmas removed from the list of national holidays.
He was suing the government in an attempt to turn December 25 into just another day here in the U.S.
Here's the reply, from Mrs. Koch, that was printed:
Dear Santa, I have been trying to be good this year but my little sister gets me in trouble. I hope you give me lots of toys this year. I'll be happy with anything you give me this year. Your friend, Bubby B.
Dear Santa, I what my dad to be smarter. Love, Robbie D.
Dear Santa, I have been a very, very good gril this year. I want your picer. Your friend, Annessa P.S. Go to Mrs. Johnson's house to get me a cat. She has lots of them.
Dear Santa, I like board games. I promise to leave you some cookies and milk. Oh, don't forget to turn off the TV this year, you forgot to last year. From your friend, Michael
As thick as snowflakes in a blizzard the letters come, year after year, as children send their letters to Santa Claus.
Somehow these letters find their way to the tiny post office in Santa Claus, Indiana, from all around the world even though at times the address is simply "Santa Claus, USA," with a colorful sticker where a 32-cent stamp should be.
Somehow the harried postal workers see to it that the letters get to Santa Claus in time. And somehow this town provides enough volunteers to make sure that each of the thousands of letters receives a personal reply from one of Santa's Elves. Everyone is busy, everyone has shopping and cooking and wrapping to do. But the sweet and sometimes sad letters from children from all over the world are too important to ignore.
Christmas is about children. Although we Americans sometimes complain about the commercialism of the holidays, we must look beyond the hustle-bustle and into the eyes of our nation's children, for it is there that we will rediscover the true spirit of the season.
Children understand Christmas. They know it's about believing.
It's about sharing and loving and giving from the heart. As adults, it's about gathering the little ones in your lap and telling them about what you asked Santa to bring you (back in the dark ages when you had to walk eight miles to school in ten feet of snow). It's giggling as three generations try to remember the gift given on the eleventh day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and blinking back tears of tender love as the tiniest grandchild recites the names of Santa's reindeers.
It's taking time off from work and school to be home with loved ones. It's breaking bread together, and giving thanks for family, good health, and for the blessings of living in America. It's a time to donate to a good cause, to prepare meals for the less fortunate, to bring flowers to a shut-in.
Thousands of children visit Santa Claus, Indiana, during their summer vacation each year to get an early visit with the town's namesake. As they climb up into his lap, there are no questions about religious or ethnic background. The only questions are: "Have you been good this year? And what would you like Santa to bring you?" Nothing political, nothing controversial, simply a quiet conversation between a little child and kindly old gentleman.
During the years when Americans have been overseas at war, the bombs stopped while soldiers from both sides gratefully celebrated the Christmas holiday. There was no question of religion for these cease-fires, but a universal agreement that on December 25th there would be no war.
Can a holiday with the power to halt wars not be a national treasure? Christmas is as American as the 4th of July. It should be celebrated by all who wish to recapture the belief and hope of a small and trusting child.
Patricia A. Koch
Santa Claus, Indiana
First posted on 12/15/05.