La Mision Children's Fund is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization. Your donation will go to buy nonviolent toys for children in Mexico.
Our neighbor, Reverend Garry Wilburn, his body ravaged by ALS,
nevertheless managed to write the wonderful book 'Lots of Love'
before he passed away. In it he tells this story:
When the little girl saw him, she squealed, “Santa Claus!” and darted past a few assistant elves toward Santa. The slightly startled Santa greeted her with a big smile and swept her into his ample lap.
She snuggled in and stroked his beard, and uttered in joyful awe, ”Santa!” For several minutes, Santa and the Little girl talked and laughed like two old friends, oblivious to the small crowd gathered to share in the magic of the moment.
The toddler’s mother stood nearby, her eyes filled with tears of joy. Just then, a man edged over to her and to her surprise, she noticed that his eyes were as moist as hers. “Is that your little girl?” he asked quietly. The woman nodded.
With a catch in his voice and a quiet pride, the man said, ”Santa is my son.”
In the 1940’s my Dad, a young Jewish man, got a job as a Santa Claus at Macy’s Department Store in New Rochelle, New York. A spirit came over him that transcends all religions. After work he roamed the streets as Santa. Somehow he was guided to play “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” on an accordion, despite the fact that he had never played a musical instrument before. Children squealed with joy as he brought them little toys and ministered to the sick. He wandered into the home of a paraplegic Irishman, eliciting glee in his eyes and gratitude from the family who patted him on the back and offered a shot of whisky. “Thanks, but I don’t drink,” Santa replied. Their faces were puzzled: this couldn’t be one of their friends. Who was this mysterious soul behind the long white beard?
year around my dad carried “Little Turtles of Happiness” in
his pocket and gave them away. He’d withdraw their little rubber heads
and legs into their shells, and talk about how sometimes we want to just
withdraw and hide from the pain of the world. Then he'd nuzzle two turtles
together, and out would pop their little heads! “The power of love
brings us out of our shells,” he would explain. My father’s
name was Leon, which is NOEL spelled backwards.
When I was 4 ½ years old, my mom died, and my dad was so heartbroken he lost the Santa spirit. Year later, after I graduated from College I bought him a Santa suit for his birthday. As he opened the surprise gift, he gasped: “My clothes. I haven’t worn my clothes in 30 years!” He began doing Santa again to the delight of Children at the Friends Meeting.
One Christmas. to cheer up a friend in the hospital, I borrowed my dad’s suit. My friend was heartened by my visit, and afterwards I went to the children’s ward with a bag of toys. The kids looked miserable – burned faces, legs hoisted up in traction, an arm in a sling. All of a sudden they spotted me and the misery vanished. “Santa,” they yelled.
As the kid in the sling one-handedly played with his spinning gizmo I knew that this was bigger than me, bigger than a man in a red suit. When you don the magic robes, you suddenly become what all religions preach: one! All who are filled with the spirit of giving are the real Santa Claus.
As the kids played happily, I slipped away to go home. “Wouldn’t you like to visit some of the other wards, Santa?” the nurse asked.
“Well, I don’t know,” I said, a little embarrassed. “Adults aren’t going to want some guy in a Santa suit bothering them.” But she convinced me to give it a try. In the first room, an elderly woman gripped my hand. “Santa,” she said with a pained smile, “I’m so glad you came. I just found out that I’m dying.” Choking up, I couldn’t speak so I just looked serenely in her face, and held her hand for what felt like an eternity. A look of peace came over her eyes as I had the joy of being the carrier of that universal spirit.
I became Santa like my papa Noel. In Santa Fe, I had the thrill of giving away an entire toy-store full of toys. At Casa Real retirement home, I danced with ladies in their walkers. On Southwest airlines people asked me to present their gifts to loved ones and the pilot announced on the intercom the progress of my reindeer dashing along side.
When Molly’s mom was in a nursing home, I had no gifts for grownups, so I tried giving out the only toys I had, stuffed animals. Some smiled, some laughed, some hugged their toys and cried. “Some of them have been non-responsive for years,” said an amazed nurse. “Somehow you must have awakened a memory from their childhood.”
Although my dad passed away at age 86, I feel his spirit coming alive in the playful joy of Christmas. I can almost hear him saying: “Santa is my son!”
For the past few years I’ve grown out my beard as the solstice approached, bleached it white, and donned the magic robes to do Santa for poor children in Mexico. The wonderful beach community of La Mision is filled with the finest elves, rivaling the North pole. These friends and Pillow Pets have donated thousands of toys for me to give away to children.