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JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Is there still Santa in America?

A professor recently asked his sociology class how they felt about America. He gave them three choices: A. America is doing just fine. B. America is having some issues. C. I am worried about America. The majority of his students chose “C.”

Most of us would probably choose the same answer. How about you?

John Eggers

So, here we are. It’s Christmas 2016. Many of you have witnessed 50, 60, 70 or even 80 Christmases. That’s a lot of presents, a lot of cookies, a lot of cards and a lot of sweaters. In all of those Christmases of yesterday and today we take heart in seeing the young because in doing so, we remember our own Christmases.

I was born during World War II. I first remember Christmas when my father returned home from the war. Although we didn’t have a much money (no one did in those days), there always seemed to be presents under the tree. My family would wait to open the gifts until my grandfather returned from preaching the Christmas Eve service.

The anticipation for opening the presents was overwhelming. My brother and I would look at the gifts, hold them, shake them, and try to guess what was inside. It was all part of the Christmas tradition. Learning to be patient enjoyed its finest hour at Christmas.

The post-war years were a time of settling down in the United States. We had won the big one and everyone believed that this would be the last. Everyone felt very comfortable and safe. If someone were to take the poll I cited earlier, the majority of Americans would say, “America is doing just fine, thank you.”

The Christmas season is meant to be a fine time. It is a time of waiting, a time for patience, a time of fulfillment, a time of innocence, a time of joy. Most certainly, it is a time for the young. George Bernard Shaw said, “It’s too bad youth has to be wasted on the young.” I’m glad it is, otherwise we wouldn’t have any reason for saying, “Let’s go see Santa”.

We cannot allow our adult worries or fears to upset the innocent spirit of the young at this time of the year. Santa only comes once year and he is a huge part of Christmas. What does Santa mean?

Santa means we should remind young people how great America is. In 1776, America won its independence from England and we have been a great country ever since. Oh, we have had our weak moments when we didn’t act so honorably with some of our citizens. What makes America great, however, is that we try to correct those faults. The older we become the wiser we become and flaws that we once hid, we now see more clearly. When things get broken, we need to remind the young that as adults it is our job to fix them. It doesn’t take away any of our greatness to admit we have flaws.

Santa means we should remind young people that Christmas is a time for a celebration. Young people need to see the joy that we bring to this sacred holiday. Go to the concerts, bake some cookies, give presents to the grandparents, go to church, wish people a Merry Christmas, send out some cards, give to a charity, watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special and do all of those things that made Christmas a happy experience for you.

Santa means we should remind young people about the origin of the word “Christmas.” Whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim or belong to no organized religion, the “Christ” in Christmas stands for hope and life after death, which Christians wish for all people. The “Christ” in Christmas stands for being a good neighbor and treating all people with respect and dignity. Christ stands for peace on earth and goodwill to everyone.

Santa means we should remind our young people about the true story of Santa Claus, who is often referred to as St. Nicholas or Ol’ Saint Nick. He was born in Turkey in the third century. His parents were wealthy and died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Nicholas took heart in the words of the Bible that said to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor." Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy and he became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need and his love for children.

Yes, there is still a Santa in America and there always will be when we adults keep reminding young people that Santa is alive and well and that he wishes that peace prevail on earth.

Riddle of the Day: What do you call Santa when he has no money? (St. Nickel-less).

Remind young people that Christmas has very little to do with money.

Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.