Who is this person known as Santa Claus, aka Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or just simply “Santa”? How can he be described? He has his roots in the Dutch figure of Sinterklass which, in turn, may have part of its basis in tales concerning the historical figure of gift-giver Saint Nicholas. It appears that he might have roots in early Greece around 1880.
To a young lad growing up in East Texas none of this was important to me. I must confess that I was a “believer” for far too long, milking the tradition for all I could. My parents were, I think, a little reluctant to stop playing the part for their youngest child.
Around five or six years of age I began to ask questions, as some things about Santa just did not add up in my mind. I was informed that Santa always entered the home via the chimney, but our home did not have a fire place. My parents had the answer to that one - he was like a spirit and could go through the key hole in the door. I bought that one for a couple of years, even making sure that the front door key was removed before going to bed on Christmas eve. He need not encounter any obstructions to gain entry.
Later, I considered how Santa could squeeze a bag full of toys through a key hole, even though he could enter himself. No problem, my parents said that they always left the front door unlocked so he could enter and take care of business. Ok, that one worked for a while. But, the year that Santa brought an electric train set pretty much settled the matter. I later saw the large box in which it came from the Western Auto store - “Mrs. Alice Murphy” was written on the box in plain view. So, here was proof that my mother had indeed purchased the train set and not Santa.
Now this information was difficult to digest as I knew that all this Santa stuff was about to end. The very last time it happened I recall being in my bed, but not asleep. I saw my dad sneaking down the hall toward the living room with a shotgun in his hands. That was the year he gave me his J. C. Higgins .20 gauge bolt action shotgun as Santa’s present. Since I was old enough to handle and shoot a gun, I was therefore old enough to admit the painful truth about the matter. Santa was now relegated to just a fond memory.
My parents always enjoyed telling the true story of my older brother, Richard, and sister, Evelyn when they were quite young, and before I was on the scene. One Christmas morning Evelyn woke up early and proceeded to the living room where she observed the toys that Santa had left. Being a bit mischievous, she hid all of Richard’s toys and put sticks in his stocking. When he ran into the room to find what Santa had left, all he found was sticks. It is said that he had his very first “Murphy fit” that day. That “prank” may have been an early form of child abuse.
I read where recently in a “progressive” school somewhere in a “progressive” city, a second-grade teacher told all her students that there was no Santa Claus, and fingered their parents as the guilty party. Predictably, this teacher and her principal were besieged with angry parents who felt it their duty to handle this matter with their children themselves - no help from a teacher needed or wanted.
So, what about this fellow, Santa Claus? Tradition says that he lives at the North Pole, with a large number of magical elves, and nine (originally eight) flying reindeer. Since the 20th century, in an idea popularized by the 1934 song, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, Santa has been believed to make a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior ( naughty or nice) and to deliver presents, including toys and candy, to all of the good boys and girls in the world. But sometimes he gives coal or sticks to the naughty children. All of this on the single night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of the elves who make the toys in the workshop and the reindeer who pull his sleigh.
Here’s a late bulletin regarding Santa Claus - A large shopping mall in a large city has decided that allowing children to sit in Santa’s lap would no longer be tolerated. Seems as though some pin-headed leaders feel that Santa cannot be trusted any longer with a child in his lap. My, haven’t we come a long way in a short time.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
“THE MYSTERY OF SANTA CLAUS”
BY: NEAL MURPHY
107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, TX 75972