Downsizing Christmas

Eric Baumann  —  December 20, 2011 — 16 Comments

One of the holiday traditions that my boys look forward to is the Toys-R-Us catalog that comes in the mail or newspaper. This is the opportunity that they have to dream big and circle all the things they want for Christmas. They go crazy as they search for the coolest toys and make their picks for Santa. I have to admit that I think I have just as much fun surfing through the pages as they do trying to find a gift that would benefit “the whole family”…or that I could play with too.

This year though, we put a twist on it. This year, we decided that we were going to downsize our gift giving…well actually our receiving. We explained that each member of the family was only going to get three gifts when they woke up for Christmas morning. We want our focus on Christmas not to be about all the toys we can rack up, but rather about three important things that should make Christmas special.

  1. We want to spend more time with each other than we spend opening up and playing with our things.
  2. We want to take the consumerism focus off of Christmas and allow our kids to be grateful for what they have.
  3. We want to teach our kids that Christmas is not about getting gifts, but it has a much deeper meaning. It’s about the fact that God loved us so much that He came to be with us.

Why only three gifts? This is to drive home the third point. When Christ was born, on the day we now celebrate Christmas, there were three wise men who brought Him…you guessed it…three gifts. If it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us. Sure, when we visit our extended family I’m sure my boys will be lavished with more…that’s what grandmas and grandpas do…but when it’s just us, we want it to be more than just checking off a wish list from Toys-R-Us.

So, what about you? What will you do this Christmas in order to focus on something more than just gifts? What traditions does your family do to remind them of the true meaning of Christmas?

Eric Baumann

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16 responses to Downsizing Christmas

  1. kevin n4eighbors December 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Eric give this 12 minutes to read and pass it on to Amy ,,,I’d like to hear your input,,,

    Santa’s Best Kept Secret

    (The Parents Guide To Explain Christmas )

    Not very far ago, there was a Christmas like no other. This Night Before Christmas ended and began at the same time! I know that’s hard to believe, but hear me out.
    I had the usual Christmas Eve, except for a chance meeting with a special person that was born on December 25th . He shared with me that no one had ever remembered his birthday. It was always overshadowed by Christmas, and all that goes into preparing for the holiday season.
    At the day’s end, I tossed and turned trying to rest. I couldn’t sleep for thinking of all the children that were born on Christmas Day . I wondered if anyone remembered their birthday’s.
    I don’t remember leaving for Sleepy Town, but when I arrived my day ended and began at the same time. Let me tell you what happened when I got there.

    It was Christmas Eve, and the Neighbors Family was filled with excitement. Christmas was a very special time in their household. It was actually a very special time in the whole town. It was a time of hope, a time of sharing, and a time for miracles!
    As Mrs. Neighbors picked up the last of the living room she called out to her children. “Destiny, Hope, Will, it’s time for bed.”
    “Ah-Mama,” they complained in unison.
    “I don’t want to hear it,” she interrupted.
    Dad said, “ Destiny starts every thought with an argument.”
    “Not tonight,” said her mother. She already knew her routine.
    All three children rummaged around attempting to stall, until Dad said, “Kids, did you forget that Santa Claus is coming tonight?” Hope, being the eldest of the three children, got a twinkle in her eye and then turned to lead the way up the stairs. It was not long before they were all asleep.
    From the far reaches of the night, softly, the sounds of Christmas approached:
    Jing, Jing, Jing, Jing
    Jing, Jing, Jing, Jing

    Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh, Jing, Jing, Jing
    Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh, Jing, Jing, Jing
    The children were all so tired. Earlier that day, they had spent the whole day shopping, up and down the streets of their very busy little town.
    There were lights everywhere. They covered the houses, the shops, dog houses, bird houses, even the outhouses! Everything, everywhere had the glow of Christmas lights. All the people were so friendly. The children were all remembering to use their best manners. “Please” and “Thank you” rang melodiously through the air. Men were opening and holding doors for the ladies. Folks were laughing and greeting each other with smiles. The time of year gave itself away with the pleasantries of the people. Christmas time was near! “I wish the spirit of Christmas could stay with us all year,” Dad said.
    “Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding,” Mom whispered as they approached the front door of the store where Lynn, the bell ringer for the Salvation Army was standing. “Merry Christmas,” Mr. and Mrs. Neighbors said together as mom emptied her change purse into the bucket and dad dug deep in his pocket for dollars.
    “Merry Christmas,” Lynn replied with a smile. “This is so wonderful! I had to empty my donation bucket three times already!” Lynn had volunteered for various charities. Her excitement for helping people was infectious. It gave the people of the town a good feeling about giving.

    After all the walking and shopping, you would have thought the kids would have gone right to sleep, but the excitement of Christmas flowed through their veins like an enormous sugar rush while they laid in their beds.
    Without warning, a pair of reindeer passed from the left to the right outside the bedroom window! Then a second, third, and fourth pair flew by! Finally, the sleigh breezed by their house on that Christmas Eve night.

    They made the sounds: Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh! Then, bells jingled as the reindeer turned back to the left, and started to fly away. With every Swoosh! and every kick from the reindeer, Christmas Cheer sprinkled from their hoofs. It looked a lot like clear flakes outlined in gold shaking off the bottom’s of their feet. This reminded Santa of food seasoned with salt and pepper. It pleased him to the to see the earth seasoned with cheer for another year. He would lean out of his sleigh from time-to-time and watch the cheer fall. His LOVE for this important day would burst from his lips spontaneously! “HO, HO!”
    In disbelief, all three of the children sprang like mouse traps! They sat straight up in their beds with their hands to their sides, pressed down into their mattresses, first Destiny, then Will, and then Hope. Their eyes were wide open, but they were all to shocked to speak. They could not believe they were finally seeing Santa Claus!
    Destiny ran to the window and tried to open it with Will, hot on her heals. Hope was a little more cautious. She slowly walked to the window in astonishment. When Will opened the window, He and Destiny screamed at the top of their lungs, “Santa! Santa! Over Here!”
    Surprised and caught off guard, Santa dropped the reins as he turned around to see who was calling him.
    O-O-O-P-S!!! The reindeer then took a nosedive which clipped the left rudder of the sleigh against the tallest chimney in their town. Santa gasped, “Ho, Ho! Mrs. Farmer isn’t going to be happy about that! I will have to put something special under her tree for all the trouble.”
    Speaking of troubles! The reindeer gasped, the children gasped. Dasher and Dancer realized the danger of the situation and instinctively took the sleigh down in a crash landing. Santa was still looking back for the voices that called for him when he saw the rudder hanging and the ground just feet away. He turned back to find the reins only to see them dangling between Donner and Blitzen.
    The reindeer landed gracefully, as ever, but the sleigh, WHOO! It bounced and squawked and squalled and dumped most of the toys onto the street.
    Santa’s seat belt held him in the sleigh during the rough landing. Yes, Santa wore a seat belt. He could see cars headed straight for him and heard brakes screeching from cars and trucks stopping everywhere. The reindeer bucked to-and-fro before settling down. Once all the excitement quieted down, Santa stuck his nose up over the edge of the sleigh to find quite a large group of spectators. Among the crowd, there was a six-foot-six man stepping off of his Harley Motorcycle. He was wearing leather chaps, a big black jacket, and he also had one of those wallets with a four-foot chain. He set down his bike’s kickstand and began running towards the sleigh. He looked like a black cloud swarming around the sleigh. His black gloves were so large they looked like the buckets on a back-hoe as they reached out to Santa. He gripped the sleigh tightly and leaned on it. His weight tilted the sleigh in his urgency . His voice, deep and sincere, softly said “Hey, little buddy, you okay?”
    Santa sighed in relief. He and the reindeer had been close to blowing their cover before, but this time it was unavoidable. Santa quietly instructs the reindeer to stay in character and stay calm. The most important thing was that they “let folks help them”.

    December 25 was a special day for all in the town, but it was even more special to Otis. It was his birthday! Though no one had ever remembered it, it was fun for him to watch everyone having so much fun on his birthday. He was leaving the Cork And Snork as the sleigh made its wobbly approach.
    The tail from the sleigh was so close to his nose, that the wind of the sleigh rocked him backward causing him to drop his purchase in the snow.

    Otis was infamous around town for celebrating Christmas and everybody’s birthday . In fact, he made it a point to knows everyone in town’s date of birth and wish them happy birthday. Even though he was considerate to do so, no one ever remembered his birthday or wished him a happy birthday.
     
    First, he checked his nose to see if it was still attached. Then, the rattled Otis, without thinking, blurted out loud in a somewhat harsh tone that all could hear:
    “I’ve been every where but the electric chair and seen everything but the wind. But this-this tops it all!”
    His tone quickly softened as reality set in. He was almost hit by Santa’s sleigh! What an honor!
    As presents bounced at his feet, he sprang into action. He decided to help by holding onto the reindeer. People all around him reacted similarly. He was, shocked, stunned, and eager to meet the driver who crashed the sleigh.
    As usual, he talked to himself as he approached the lead reindeer. He had never been this close to any kind of deer before. He reasoned that if they were Santa’s reindeer, he would be fine.
    Otis timidly approached the lead deer and slowly reached for the reins. Then he clasped on with all his might, as if he could really stop these magnificent creatures from taking off.
    This humored Dasher and Dancer, but they followed their master’s instructions and let Otis help.
    After a full assessment of Otis’ condition, Dasher looked at Dancer, and Dancer looked at Dasher. They both shimmered with compassion as Dancer gently reached out with his left antler and held Otis up by his shoulder. Dasher removed his hat and hung it on Dancer’s right antler. The antler looked as if it were a custom made hat rack for this very moment. Dasher’s bristly chin worked well as a brush. He began grooming Otis’s hair. Otis was quite a mess after a long day and a close call with a sleigh.
    With every stroke of his head ,Otis was a little steadier and comforted from the sensational touch of the reindeer. Dasher gently put his hat in place and nuzzled him on the cheek to let him know that he didn’t have to hold them any longer.
    Bewildered, Otis marveled at the fresh feeling you get from holding reindeer. He was thinking out loud when he said, “They like me! They really, really like me! I’d like to hold a reindeer everyday!”
    Otis wanted to meet Santa so much, but he was engulfed with fans and people fascinated to meet him also. Santa was completely out of reach. Otis thought of climbing a tree so he could see him, but it was too icy. The town square’s Big Ben Clock chimed away as Christmas Eve became Christmas Day. At the final gong of the clock, Otis was so disappointed. He walked about a half a block from the crash thinking there was no way to meet the legend. He looked back from time to time to see if there might be a chance to meet Santa but there was no chance. Santa was surrounded. Just as he started to give up and cross the street, something tapped his shoulder. He looked back, but no one was there. He turned back around. Then gently, but without his consent, his feet spun on the ice beneath him facing him back towards the crash site. He ended up nose to nose and toes to toes with Santa Clause! Santa’s eyes were fixed on his eyes. Otis felt like he could almost drown in the sea of blue underneath Santa’s eyelids. Unconditional love and deep compassion over- flowed from his eyes. It was splashing like ocean waves all over Otis. This sensation was even more refreshing and real than the reindeers’ touch.
    Santa puts his hands on Otis’ shoulders and pulled his beard close to Otis’ ear. He whispered, “Happy Birthday Otis.”
    Otis’ eyes filled with tears. They froze, and formed eyelash ice cycles as he attempted to speak to this amazing man.
    He choked out, “You, you, you know my name!”
    “Oh course I know your name! I knew your name before anyone knew your name.” Santa replied. I knew your Birthday before your parents even knew your birthday. You see, it is a very special day for me also! It is my birthday too! Not many people know that. It’s almost like it’s a secret.
    Otis quickly responded with, “Happy Birthday!”
    This brought a enormous smile to Santa’s face. “Thank-you kind man,” Santa continued. “Otis, the sleigh is almost fixed and I have to be off. What can I give you for this very special day?”
    Otis’s face filled with a smile as he answered, “Oh, you already gave me the best gift you could by remembering my birthday and wishing me a Happy Birthday. You knew my name! Thank you! Thank you!
    Santa was impressed by Otis’ humility. Santa had something very, very important to tell Otis, but without warning, Otis fell into Santa’s chest and lifted the round man off the ground with an enormous bear hug.
    Santa hadn’t been picked up in years. A thunderous Ho, Ho, Ho! was heard throughout the town as his feet dangled above Otis’ feet. Otis suddenly realized that compared to his size, this round little guy didn’t weigh anything! He set Santa down and stated, “You’re as light as a cloud compared to your size! I could hold you up all day. Why are you so light?”
    Santa and Otis strolled back toward the crowd and the sleigh. Santa grinned, “You’ll know who I AM is soon enough. Where I’m from is no secret, but not many know me like they think they do. All of the myths and folklore about me make Christmas fun, but they also tends to make folks forget Who I represent. Peace my friend. Farewell for now.” Santa disappeared back into the crowd.
    For a brief moment, Otis had clarity. His eyes could see and his ears could hear what Santa was telling him. This merry man’s loving kindness melted Otis as he bowed his head to give thanks. At that moment, he realized what Santa meant by I AM.

    Meanwhile, back at the Neighbor’s house, the children rushed downstairs, only to find that Santa hadn’t been there yet! Destiny’s eyes welled with tears. Will was saddened, as he realized that Santa might not make it at all. Hope sighed and said, “Let’s go back to bed.”
    As they walked toward what seemed to be a mile-high stairway to their bedroom, Hope thought out loud, “Ya know? Santa might be late, but he WILL be here!”
    They tossed and turned all night trying to get back to sleep. Somewhere in the middle of the night, Hope whispered very quietly, “Santa, please don’t be late.” Then, as if they were all struck with the same inspiration, they ran to the window, opened it, and called out together: “Santa, don’t be late!”
    Back at the sleigh, Santa was quite the celebrity. Though no one was asked to do anything, folks were busy working all around him. The man who first jumped from his Harley, come to find out, he was a carpenter and a mechanic. After discovering that Santa was alright, he began fixing the rudder. There was a cafe across the street and one of the waitresses had noticed the commotion. She promptly brought hot coffee for everyone. Traffic was being directed by two of the finest-dressed business executives the town had to offer. People had appeared from everywhere and instinctively started picking up the presents that were dumped out of the sleigh after the crash. Everyone pulled up their sleeves and pitched in to help so that Santa could be on his way.
    Destiny, Hope, and Will were restless and worried. Hope quietly recalled the wonderful day they had just had in an attempt to lull her brother and sister to sleep. She reminded them of Mom, Dad, and Hope wrapping presents as Destiny and Will played in the front yard with their friends. Dad had slipped away from the wrapping only to re-appear with a tray holding piping hot mugs of hot cider. Hope took one whiff, then one sip, jumped to her feet and ran to the kitchen to get some for her brother and sister. When she opened the door, she realized she had forgotten their friends. This was an easy fix for Destiny and Will. They bounced past her, grabbed two more cups and poured half of their cider into the cups. “Plenty for all,” Destiny said. Dad and Mom just grinned as they watched their children. “Chip off the old block,” Dad humbly boasts about himself.
    “Thanks!” Mom said with a teasing little chuckle.
    Life -like transformation in the illustrations from here to end
    With the help of the people, Santa finished his night just as Hope had predicted. He was late, but he made it! He parked the sleigh, tossed his hat onto the front seat, and unhooked the reindeer.
    His left palm was facing upward and He pulled off His mitten with His right hand. Simultaneously, two tiny upside down tornadoes began to swirl around His boots. They spun very quickly and touched every part of His body. They set off a chain reaction that began by His belly being deflated. His suit then turned whiter than the snow around Him as a scar faintly appeared on His left palm.
    He then reached and pulled off the other mitten, only to reveal another scar on the back of His right hand. His hair then darkened, and His beard appeared as if it had fallen out and as a shorter brown shadow of a beard covered His face. The tiny tornadoes completed their evolution and began to dissipate at the top of His head but not before stretching Him several inches taller. He then placed the blood-red mittens on the sleigh, and rubbed His nail-scarred hands together to keep them warm. His eyes raised to watch the reindeer as they stood up on their hind legs. Their antlers detached and rolled down their necks finding a new spot on their shoulders and backs to form mighty archangel wings.
    The angels then turned to bow to the Son of God and say, “Happy Birthday, Master.” Michael (Dasher) stepped forward to report and Gabriel (Dancer) joined by his side. “We would love to stay but our services are required elsewhere,” they stated in great reverence. The Lord nodded, giving His permission.
    The angels’ mighty wings stood above their shoulders like mountain peaks. As the wings closed around their bodies, they sealed shut like elevator doors forming a rocket-shaped, feathery force field. Then, in separate bolts of light, they were all gone.
    The Son of Man looked to His left as the night opened up to a staircase that gently ascended into the Heavens. There, the children of Heaven were gathered at the top, patiently waiting for the Lord with birthday presents in hand. They all began calling to him, “Abba! Emanuel! Hesus! Jeshua! Jesus! El Shaddei!” Thousands of little voices harmonized from the Heavens.
    One of the smaller lads stood in the midst of the ocean of children, unable to see. In all of the excitement, he shouted, “Jesus, don’t be late!” It silenced the rest of the children. They snickered at how cute he was. “He is right at the bottom of the stairs,” one of the children whispered. The boy stretched his neck and body as far as he could, trying to see. One of the bigger children helped him by lifting him onto his shoulders. With a clear view, he saw his Friend approaching the stairway. He cried out “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”
    All of the other children joined together and called Him by name. The sounds rang out like trumpets as each child called Him by a different name: “Master, Savior, Son of Man, Hosanna, Prince of Peace, Jesus, Jesus, JESUS!!!!!” They called out all the different names of the Birthday Boy and their harmony shook the Heavens. The joy of the Lord fell to the Earth, seasoning it all with joy.
    The Son of God ascended. As He walked, His boots changed to sandals. His suit turned to a pristine, white, seamless robe. When He reached a halfway point toward the heavens, the children knew that it was okay to run to His side. They bounced like rubber balls with excitement down the stairs towards Him.
    Just before they reached Him, He looked back over His left shoulder, toward the Earth. His left eye twinkled like the Bethlehem star. His smile was charming and innocent as He quietly whispered …….

    “Ho, Ho, Ho.”
    “We Love you too,” all of the children said in resounding unison, all in their native language.
    Of course, everyone in Heaven knows that HO, HO, HO also means “I Love You.”

    Mom gently opened the door, “Kids, wake up! It’s Christmas!” Destiny rubbed her eyes and said, “Mama, do you know why Santa is so good? Jesus is in him. He’s wearing a Santa suit like the Santa at the store, but this is the real one that goes away when he goes to His Birthday party in Heaven.”
    “Where did you get that?” Mom asked. “Hey, I just dreamed that too!” Hope said excitedly. “So did I!” Will joined in. “Mom, do you know how the reindeer know how to fly?” They’re angels! Very Big Ones!” Will exclaimed.
    And they all three shouted together, “Ho, ho, ho,” means “I love you,” in heaven!

    The kids compared dreams as they opened their presents. Mom and Dad sat back in their chairs, astonished that their dreams were identical.
    Destiny asked, “Mama, are Santa and Jesus the same person?”
    “I ‘m not sure,” her mother replied. “ I believe that was just a dream. But I AM sure He’ll reveal himself to you in due time.
    Suddenly Destiny eyes widened with excitement thinking about this new revelation. “So, that’s how Santa ‘sees us when we’re sleeping, knows when we’re awake, and knows when we’ve been bad or good.’ It is really Jesus, right Mama?”
    “Yes, honey. Now that’s right!” Mom exclaimed.
    “Mama, if it’s Jesus’ birthday why do we get all the presents?” asked Destiny.
    Mother was taken by surprise at such a big question from her littlest girl. In fact, she was speechless until her eyes picked up a manger scene in her neighbor’s front yard across the street. Her spirit filled as she confidently gave her answer. “Each year at Christmas, when we receive gifts from family members and friends, it is a reminder that Jesus was ‘The Original Gift.’ God gave us His Son so that we would have eternal life.”
    Destiny gets very quite.
    “So then we shouldn’t be good for ‘goodness’ sake but for Jesus’ sake, right?” Destiny reasoned out loud.
    Mother spoke through her happy tears, “Absolutely baby, absolutely.” Mom wiped her happy tears from her eyes with her apron, knowing that her children received an amazing revelation through their Dream. “Now, give me a hug and help me set the table,” she said smiling.
    The Family sat down to Christmas dinner. After they asked the blessing, Dad asked all the children, “Which present did you like the best?” Hope, Will, Destiny, said together, “MY DREAM?”

    Kevin Neighbors

    Dated: January 20, 2008

  2. kevin n4eighbors December 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Eric give this 12 minutes to read and pass it on to Amy ,,,I’d like to hear your input,,,

    Santa’s Best Kept Secret

    (The Parents Guide To Explain Christmas )

    Not very far ago, there was a Christmas like no other. This Night Before Christmas ended and began at the same time! I know that’s hard to believe, but hear me out.
    I had the usual Christmas Eve, except for a chance meeting with a special person that was born on December 25th . He shared with me that no one had ever remembered his birthday. It was always overshadowed by Christmas, and all that goes into preparing for the holiday season.
    At the day’s end, I tossed and turned trying to rest. I couldn’t sleep for thinking of all the children that were born on Christmas Day . I wondered if anyone remembered their birthday’s.
    I don’t remember leaving for Sleepy Town, but when I arrived my day ended and began at the same time. Let me tell you what happened when I got there.

    It was Christmas Eve, and the Neighbors Family was filled with excitement. Christmas was a very special time in their household. It was actually a very special time in the whole town. It was a time of hope, a time of sharing, and a time for miracles!
    As Mrs. Neighbors picked up the last of the living room she called out to her children. “Destiny, Hope, Will, it’s time for bed.”
    “Ah-Mama,” they complained in unison.
    “I don’t want to hear it,” she interrupted.
    Dad said, “ Destiny starts every thought with an argument.”
    “Not tonight,” said her mother. She already knew her routine.
    All three children rummaged around attempting to stall, until Dad said, “Kids, did you forget that Santa Claus is coming tonight?” Hope, being the eldest of the three children, got a twinkle in her eye and then turned to lead the way up the stairs. It was not long before they were all asleep.
    From the far reaches of the night, softly, the sounds of Christmas approached:
    Jing, Jing, Jing, Jing
    Jing, Jing, Jing, Jing

    Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh, Jing, Jing, Jing
    Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh, Jing, Jing, Jing
    The children were all so tired. Earlier that day, they had spent the whole day shopping, up and down the streets of their very busy little town.
    There were lights everywhere. They covered the houses, the shops, dog houses, bird houses, even the outhouses! Everything, everywhere had the glow of Christmas lights. All the people were so friendly. The children were all remembering to use their best manners. “Please” and “Thank you” rang melodiously through the air. Men were opening and holding doors for the ladies. Folks were laughing and greeting each other with smiles. The time of year gave itself away with the pleasantries of the people. Christmas time was near! “I wish the spirit of Christmas could stay with us all year,” Dad said.
    “Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding,” Mom whispered as they approached the front door of the store where Lynn, the bell ringer for the Salvation Army was standing. “Merry Christmas,” Mr. and Mrs. Neighbors said together as mom emptied her change purse into the bucket and dad dug deep in his pocket for dollars.
    “Merry Christmas,” Lynn replied with a smile. “This is so wonderful! I had to empty my donation bucket three times already!” Lynn had volunteered for various charities. Her excitement for helping people was infectious. It gave the people of the town a good feeling about giving.

    After all the walking and shopping, you would have thought the kids would have gone right to sleep, but the excitement of Christmas flowed through their veins like an enormous sugar rush while they laid in their beds.
    Without warning, a pair of reindeer passed from the left to the right outside the bedroom window! Then a second, third, and fourth pair flew by! Finally, the sleigh breezed by their house on that Christmas Eve night.

    They made the sounds: Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh! Then, bells jingled as the reindeer turned back to the left, and started to fly away. With every Swoosh! and every kick from the reindeer, Christmas Cheer sprinkled from their hoofs. It looked a lot like clear flakes outlined in gold shaking off the bottom’s of their feet. This reminded Santa of food seasoned with salt and pepper. It pleased him to the to see the earth seasoned with cheer for another year. He would lean out of his sleigh from time-to-time and watch the cheer fall. His LOVE for this important day would burst from his lips spontaneously! “HO, HO!”
    In disbelief, all three of the children sprang like mouse traps! They sat straight up in their beds with their hands to their sides, pressed down into their mattresses, first Destiny, then Will, and then Hope. Their eyes were wide open, but they were all to shocked to speak. They could not believe they were finally seeing Santa Claus!
    Destiny ran to the window and tried to open it with Will, hot on her heals. Hope was a little more cautious. She slowly walked to the window in astonishment. When Will opened the window, He and Destiny screamed at the top of their lungs, “Santa! Santa! Over Here!”
    Surprised and caught off guard, Santa dropped the reins as he turned around to see who was calling him.
    O-O-O-P-S!!! The reindeer then took a nosedive which clipped the left rudder of the sleigh against the tallest chimney in their town. Santa gasped, “Ho, Ho! Mrs. Farmer isn’t going to be happy about that! I will have to put something special under her tree for all the trouble.”
    Speaking of troubles! The reindeer gasped, the children gasped. Dasher and Dancer realized the danger of the situation and instinctively took the sleigh down in a crash landing. Santa was still looking back for the voices that called for him when he saw the rudder hanging and the ground just feet away. He turned back to find the reins only to see them dangling between Donner and Blitzen.
    The reindeer landed gracefully, as ever, but the sleigh, WHOO! It bounced and squawked and squalled and dumped most of the toys onto the street.
    Santa’s seat belt held him in the sleigh during the rough landing. Yes, Santa wore a seat belt. He could see cars headed straight for him and heard brakes screeching from cars and trucks stopping everywhere. The reindeer bucked to-and-fro before settling down. Once all the excitement quieted down, Santa stuck his nose up over the edge of the sleigh to find quite a large group of spectators. Among the crowd, there was a six-foot-six man stepping off of his Harley Motorcycle. He was wearing leather chaps, a big black jacket, and he also had one of those wallets with a four-foot chain. He set down his bike’s kickstand and began running towards the sleigh. He looked like a black cloud swarming around the sleigh. His black gloves were so large they looked like the buckets on a back-hoe as they reached out to Santa. He gripped the sleigh tightly and leaned on it. His weight tilted the sleigh in his urgency . His voice, deep and sincere, softly said “Hey, little buddy, you okay?”
    Santa sighed in relief. He and the reindeer had been close to blowing their cover before, but this time it was unavoidable. Santa quietly instructs the reindeer to stay in character and stay calm. The most important thing was that they “let folks help them”.

    December 25 was a special day for all in the town, but it was even more special to Otis. It was his birthday! Though no one had ever remembered it, it was fun for him to watch everyone having so much fun on his birthday. He was leaving the Cork And Snork as the sleigh made its wobbly approach.
    The tail from the sleigh was so close to his nose, that the wind of the sleigh rocked him backward causing him to drop his purchase in the snow.

    Otis was infamous around town for celebrating Christmas and everybody’s birthday . In fact, he made it a point to knows everyone in town’s date of birth and wish them happy birthday. Even though he was considerate to do so, no one ever remembered his birthday or wished him a happy birthday.
     
    First, he checked his nose to see if it was still attached. Then, the rattled Otis, without thinking, blurted out loud in a somewhat harsh tone that all could hear:
    “I’ve been every where but the electric chair and seen everything but the wind. But this-this tops it all!”
    His tone quickly softened as reality set in. He was almost hit by Santa’s sleigh! What an honor!
    As presents bounced at his feet, he sprang into action. He decided to help by holding onto the reindeer. People all around him reacted similarly. He was, shocked, stunned, and eager to meet the driver who crashed the sleigh.
    As usual, he talked to himself as he approached the lead reindeer. He had never been this close to any kind of deer before. He reasoned that if they were Santa’s reindeer, he would be fine.
    Otis timidly approached the lead deer and slowly reached for the reins. Then he clasped on with all his might, as if he could really stop these magnificent creatures from taking off.
    This humored Dasher and Dancer, but they followed their master’s instructions and let Otis help.
    After a full assessment of Otis’ condition, Dasher looked at Dancer, and Dancer looked at Dasher. They both shimmered with compassion as Dancer gently reached out with his left antler and held Otis up by his shoulder. Dasher removed his hat and hung it on Dancer’s right antler. The antler looked as if it were a custom made hat rack for this very moment. Dasher’s bristly chin worked well as a brush. He began grooming Otis’s hair. Otis was quite a mess after a long day and a close call with a sleigh.
    With every stroke of his head ,Otis was a little steadier and comforted from the sensational touch of the reindeer. Dasher gently put his hat in place and nuzzled him on the cheek to let him know that he didn’t have to hold them any longer.
    Bewildered, Otis marveled at the fresh feeling you get from holding reindeer. He was thinking out loud when he said, “They like me! They really, really like me! I’d like to hold a reindeer everyday!”
    Otis wanted to meet Santa so much, but he was engulfed with fans and people fascinated to meet him also. Santa was completely out of reach. Otis thought of climbing a tree so he could see him, but it was too icy. The town square’s Big Ben Clock chimed away as Christmas Eve became Christmas Day. At the final gong of the clock, Otis was so disappointed. He walked about a half a block from the crash thinking there was no way to meet the legend. He looked back from time to time to see if there might be a chance to meet Santa but there was no chance. Santa was surrounded. Just as he started to give up and cross the street, something tapped his shoulder. He looked back, but no one was there. He turned back around. Then gently, but without his consent, his feet spun on the ice beneath him facing him back towards the crash site. He ended up nose to nose and toes to toes with Santa Clause! Santa’s eyes were fixed on his eyes. Otis felt like he could almost drown in the sea of blue underneath Santa’s eyelids. Unconditional love and deep compassion over- flowed from his eyes. It was splashing like ocean waves all over Otis. This sensation was even more refreshing and real than the reindeers’ touch.
    Santa puts his hands on Otis’ shoulders and pulled his beard close to Otis’ ear. He whispered, “Happy Birthday Otis.”
    Otis’ eyes filled with tears. They froze, and formed eyelash ice cycles as he attempted to speak to this amazing man.
    He choked out, “You, you, you know my name!”
    “Oh course I know your name! I knew your name before anyone knew your name.” Santa replied. I knew your Birthday before your parents even knew your birthday. You see, it is a very special day for me also! It is my birthday too! Not many people know that. It’s almost like it’s a secret.
    Otis quickly responded with, “Happy Birthday!”
    This brought a enormous smile to Santa’s face. “Thank-you kind man,” Santa continued. “Otis, the sleigh is almost fixed and I have to be off. What can I give you for this very special day?”
    Otis’s face filled with a smile as he answered, “Oh, you already gave me the best gift you could by remembering my birthday and wishing me a Happy Birthday. You knew my name! Thank you! Thank you!
    Santa was impressed by Otis’ humility. Santa had something very, very important to tell Otis, but without warning, Otis fell into Santa’s chest and lifted the round man off the ground with an enormous bear hug.
    Santa hadn’t been picked up in years. A thunderous Ho, Ho, Ho! was heard throughout the town as his feet dangled above Otis’ feet. Otis suddenly realized that compared to his size, this round little guy didn’t weigh anything! He set Santa down and stated, “You’re as light as a cloud compared to your size! I could hold you up all day. Why are you so light?”
    Santa and Otis strolled back toward the crowd and the sleigh. Santa grinned, “You’ll know who I AM is soon enough. Where I’m from is no secret, but not many know me like they think they do. All of the myths and folklore about me make Christmas fun, but they also tends to make folks forget Who I represent. Peace my friend. Farewell for now.” Santa disappeared back into the crowd.
    For a brief moment, Otis had clarity. His eyes could see and his ears could hear what Santa was telling him. This merry man’s loving kindness melted Otis as he bowed his head to give thanks. At that moment, he realized what Santa meant by I AM.

    Meanwhile, back at the Neighbor’s house, the children rushed downstairs, only to find that Santa hadn’t been there yet! Destiny’s eyes welled with tears. Will was saddened, as he realized that Santa might not make it at all. Hope sighed and said, “Let’s go back to bed.”
    As they walked toward what seemed to be a mile-high stairway to their bedroom, Hope thought out loud, “Ya know? Santa might be late, but he WILL be here!”
    They tossed and turned all night trying to get back to sleep. Somewhere in the middle of the night, Hope whispered very quietly, “Santa, please don’t be late.” Then, as if they were all struck with the same inspiration, they ran to the window, opened it, and called out together: “Santa, don’t be late!”
    Back at the sleigh, Santa was quite the celebrity. Though no one was asked to do anything, folks were busy working all around him. The man who first jumped from his Harley, come to find out, he was a carpenter and a mechanic. After discovering that Santa was alright, he began fixing the rudder. There was a cafe across the street and one of the waitresses had noticed the commotion. She promptly brought hot coffee for everyone. Traffic was being directed by two of the finest-dressed business executives the town had to offer. People had appeared from everywhere and instinctively started picking up the presents that were dumped out of the sleigh after the crash. Everyone pulled up their sleeves and pitched in to help so that Santa could be on his way.
    Destiny, Hope, and Will were restless and worried. Hope quietly recalled the wonderful day they had just had in an attempt to lull her brother and sister to sleep. She reminded them of Mom, Dad, and Hope wrapping presents as Destiny and Will played in the front yard with their friends. Dad had slipped away from the wrapping only to re-appear with a tray holding piping hot mugs of hot cider. Hope took one whiff, then one sip, jumped to her feet and ran to the kitchen to get some for her brother and sister. When she opened the door, she realized she had forgotten their friends. This was an easy fix for Destiny and Will. They bounced past her, grabbed two more cups and poured half of their cider into the cups. “Plenty for all,” Destiny said. Dad and Mom just grinned as they watched their children. “Chip off the old block,” Dad humbly boasts about himself.
    “Thanks!” Mom said with a teasing little chuckle.
    Life -like transformation in the illustrations from here to end
    With the help of the people, Santa finished his night just as Hope had predicted. He was late, but he made it! He parked the sleigh, tossed his hat onto the front seat, and unhooked the reindeer.
    His left palm was facing upward and He pulled off His mitten with His right hand. Simultaneously, two tiny upside down tornadoes began to swirl around His boots. They spun very quickly and touched every part of His body. They set off a chain reaction that began by His belly being deflated. His suit then turned whiter than the snow around Him as a scar faintly appeared on His left palm.
    He then reached and pulled off the other mitten, only to reveal another scar on the back of His right hand. His hair then darkened, and His beard appeared as if it had fallen out and as a shorter brown shadow of a beard covered His face. The tiny tornadoes completed their evolution and began to dissipate at the top of His head but not before stretching Him several inches taller. He then placed the blood-red mittens on the sleigh, and rubbed His nail-scarred hands together to keep them warm. His eyes raised to watch the reindeer as they stood up on their hind legs. Their antlers detached and rolled down their necks finding a new spot on their shoulders and backs to form mighty archangel wings.
    The angels then turned to bow to the Son of God and say, “Happy Birthday, Master.” Michael (Dasher) stepped forward to report and Gabriel (Dancer) joined by his side. “We would love to stay but our services are required elsewhere,” they stated in great reverence. The Lord nodded, giving His permission.
    The angels’ mighty wings stood above their shoulders like mountain peaks. As the wings closed around their bodies, they sealed shut like elevator doors forming a rocket-shaped, feathery force field. Then, in separate bolts of light, they were all gone.
    The Son of Man looked to His left as the night opened up to a staircase that gently ascended into the Heavens. There, the children of Heaven were gathered at the top, patiently waiting for the Lord with birthday presents in hand. They all began calling to him, “Abba! Emanuel! Hesus! Jeshua! Jesus! El Shaddei!” Thousands of little voices harmonized from the Heavens.
    One of the smaller lads stood in the midst of the ocean of children, unable to see. In all of the excitement, he shouted, “Jesus, don’t be late!” It silenced the rest of the children. They snickered at how cute he was. “He is right at the bottom of the stairs,” one of the children whispered. The boy stretched his neck and body as far as he could, trying to see. One of the bigger children helped him by lifting him onto his shoulders. With a clear view, he saw his Friend approaching the stairway. He cried out “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”
    All of the other children joined together and called Him by name. The sounds rang out like trumpets as each child called Him by a different name: “Master, Savior, Son of Man, Hosanna, Prince of Peace, Jesus, Jesus, JESUS!!!!!” They called out all the different names of the Birthday Boy and their harmony shook the Heavens. The joy of the Lord fell to the Earth, seasoning it all with joy.
    The Son of God ascended. As He walked, His boots changed to sandals. His suit turned to a pristine, white, seamless robe. When He reached a halfway point toward the heavens, the children knew that it was okay to run to His side. They bounced like rubber balls with excitement down the stairs towards Him.
    Just before they reached Him, He looked back over His left shoulder, toward the Earth. His left eye twinkled like the Bethlehem star. His smile was charming and innocent as He quietly whispered …….

    “Ho, Ho, Ho.”
    “We Love you too,” all of the children said in resounding unison, all in their native language.
    Of course, everyone in Heaven knows that HO, HO, HO also means “I Love You.”

    Mom gently opened the door, “Kids, wake up! It’s Christmas!” Destiny rubbed her eyes and said, “Mama, do you know why Santa is so good? Jesus is in him. He’s wearing a Santa suit like the Santa at the store, but this is the real one that goes away when he goes to His Birthday party in Heaven.”
    “Where did you get that?” Mom asked. “Hey, I just dreamed that too!” Hope said excitedly. “So did I!” Will joined in. “Mom, do you know how the reindeer know how to fly?” They’re angels! Very Big Ones!” Will exclaimed.
    And they all three shouted together, “Ho, ho, ho,” means “I love you,” in heaven!

    The kids compared dreams as they opened their presents. Mom and Dad sat back in their chairs, astonished that their dreams were identical.
    Destiny asked, “Mama, are Santa and Jesus the same person?”
    “I ‘m not sure,” her mother replied. “ I believe that was just a dream. But I AM sure He’ll reveal himself to you in due time.
    Suddenly Destiny eyes widened with excitement thinking about this new revelation. “So, that’s how Santa ‘sees us when we’re sleeping, knows when we’re awake, and knows when we’ve been bad or good.’ It is really Jesus, right Mama?”
    “Yes, honey. Now that’s right!” Mom exclaimed.
    “Mama, if it’s Jesus’ birthday why do we get all the presents?” asked Destiny.
    Mother was taken by surprise at such a big question from her littlest girl. In fact, she was speechless until her eyes picked up a manger scene in her neighbor’s front yard across the street. Her spirit filled as she confidently gave her answer. “Each year at Christmas, when we receive gifts from family members and friends, it is a reminder that Jesus was ‘The Original Gift.’ God gave us His Son so that we would have eternal life.”
    Destiny gets very quite.
    “So then we shouldn’t be good for ‘goodness’ sake but for Jesus’ sake, right?” Destiny reasoned out loud.
    Mother spoke through her happy tears, “Absolutely baby, absolutely.” Mom wiped her happy tears from her eyes with her apron, knowing that her children received an amazing revelation through their Dream. “Now, give me a hug and help me set the table,” she said smiling.
    The Family sat down to Christmas dinner. After they asked the blessing, Dad asked all the children, “Which present did you like the best?” Hope, Will, Destiny, said together, “MY DREAM?”

    Kevin Neighbors

    Dated: January 20, 2008

  3. Great post. We’ve certainly downplayed presents with our kids. Now, if we could only get the grandparents onboard.

  4. Great post. We’ve certainly downplayed presents with our kids. Now, if we could only get the grandparents onboard.

  5. I’m so glad I found my sloution online.

  6. I’m so glad I found my sloution online.

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