Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part, not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the music of pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ. For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation, this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing: Glory to God in the Highest; and with the shepherds: and on earth peace to men of good will.

(From the Nativity Homily of St. John Chrysostom)

I wrote the following story when I was in the fourth grade. It won the school-wide Christmas story contest, and I received a twelve-inch-wide giant frosted cookie as my prize. It’s not the most valuable payment that I’ve ever received for my writing, but it was certainly the most delicious.

The Best Christmas Ever

It was the day before Christmas Eve, and I was doing my last minute shopping. In my hand I carried a Christmas list my son had given me. I had checked off everything on the list except for a few items that were too expensive, and one I had bought before recieving the list. I was about to look for my daughter’s list, when I remembered I had no list from her. My daughter, Rachel, who is five, insisted on writing a list to Santa, but I refused to let her. I remembered the details of the scene.

“Daddy, will you give this list to Santa at the mall?” Rachel had asked.

“Rachel, how many times have I told you there is no Santa Claus!” I yelled. “No I will not give your list to Santa.”

“But he’s real,” Rachel insisted.

“No he’s not!” I shouted, “and that’s final!” I stormed out of the house.

Now as I walked down the hall in the mall, I thought about my wife, Mary. She had died in a car wreck two years ago, on Christmas eve. Since then eeach year had been worse. This year I just about had it with Rachel’s constant pestering and all.

By the time I got home, both my kids had put themselves to bed. I sighed. I hadn’t gotten anythnig for Rachel because I didn’t want to get her something she didn’t want. Finally I climbed into bed and fell asleep. The next day was Christmas Eve. I was up first and eating breakfast before Paul, my son, was up. I then proceeded to make breakfast for Paul and Rachel, who was also up by that time. Rachel looked as if something was on her mind.

“Are you thinking about Santa Claus again?” I asked.

“Yes,” Rachel replied honestly.

“Well you’re not writing to him,” I said.

“All right, Daddy, I won’t write a letter to him,” she said. But she had an uneasy look in her eye. The rest of the day was spent wrapping presents and putting them under the tree. Rachel didn’t say anything else about Santa Claus.

That night I heard a noise downstairs about midnight. I got up to investigate. When I got there, there were cookies and milk set by the fireplace. By it was a short note that read:

Dear Santa Claus,

Plees bring me a china dol, a new dres, and help my daddy to be niser. from: Rachel.

At first I wanted to tear it up, but I paused. Instead I went to an old trunk, where I kept my favorite memoirs. I knew that I had an old doll there that my Grandmother had given me. When I found it I hurriedly wrapped it up and put it under the tree. I also had a dress that was Mary’s when she was little. I put that under the tree too. “And I’ll work on the third thing,” I vowed. I then took two blank cards and wrote “To: Rachel, From:…” I was about to sign my name, but I stopped. Instead I wrote: “From: Santa Claus.”

Before dawn the next morning I was awoken by shouts of joy from downstairs. There, Rachel was cradling her doll and admiring the dress. She looked up and yelled, “Look, Daddy, what Santa Claus brought me!”

I looked at her and smiled.

Adoration of the Magi