In mid-January, my wife Bonnie and I traveled to Florida for a 3-day workshop on “The Art of Seeing” with photographers Les Saucier and Janet Garrity. We went to fabulous locations from our base at the Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Island.
Our grandson, Martin turned 3 years old in early November and over Thanksgiving week, we were present to join in for the day-after-Thanksgiving visit from Santa in Oxford MS. This was the first year Martin wasn’t in tears from the Santa adventure.
But you can see that he still wasn’t quite sure what to think! Our daughter and son-in-law were much more excited about getting to see Santa than Martin was.
I enjoy exploring the history of cultural traditions like we have around Santa Claus and Christmas, bringing good children gifts, and coal for those who have been misbehaving. Once I got past the age of believing in the ‘real’ Santa Claus around the age of six or so, I remember reading a picture book we had about the origins of Santa Claus beginning with real historical Saint Nicholas.
Since I no longer have that book, and wasn’t sure of the details, I searched and found a fun website, Why Christmas with an article that verified my recollection of Saint Nicholas and how he came to be the patron saint of not only children, but also sailors.
While none of the stories can be fully verified, one in particular contributed to the modern day tradition about Santa coming down the chimney and depositing gifts in stockings hung on the mantle. Here’s the story quoted from the website:
“There was a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn’t get married…. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.”
Back to our own story with Martin’s Santa encounter this year, it was a happy ending in spite of a bit of trepidation evident in Martin’s expression. I had fun watching and documenting the event with my camera. Turning the photos into a story that inspired a bit of research into the Santa Claus tradition was the icing on the cake.