I had a big disappointment as a kid one Christmas, but kept it a secret all these years. I’ve never forgotten the Christmas when I was 5-1/2 years old. We’d left a favorite Marion, NY farm to live in Clifton, NJ again, the city where I was born. I was a big girl, walking all by myself the several blocks to kindergarten - PS#15 overlooking scenic Weasel Brook Park. My sister and I with our toddler brother loved to visit Grammy and PopPop (our Dad’s parents), and that Christmas was especially exciting ‘cause we were going to meet Santa!! And I knew all about him…
You see, I had a book, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and knew that little story by heart… like another favorite book, “The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens”. Just ask my kids… they’ll tell you not to get me started – ‘cause I still know that favorite story by heart! But there we were at the Christmas party with a house full of relatives. And who arrives amidst a big fuss? Santa Claus!!! No, not down the chimney, silly! After all, my grandparents didn’t have a fireplace, only radiators in their city house. No, Santa simply came in the back door, all dressed in red with white trim. He had a white beard, and a wide black belt around his big tummy – just like in my book! So, it really was him!!
Then, while PopPop took movies, we girls took turns sitting on Santa’s lap, telling him what we wanted for Christmas - me, my sister, Carol, and our cousin, Susan. I honestly don’t remember who went first. But, I do know that I was scared despite being the oldest cousin and in kindergarten. I didn’t know what to say! But cousin Susan? She wasn’t afraid of Santa! She talked to him just like she knew who he was… and I was jealous. Why couldn’t I have talked with Santa like that? But, we were very happy with the big stocking full of candy that he gave each of us!
As Santa left, Grammy took us three girls to a window upstairs that overlooked the snow-covered street out front, the sides banked high with plowed snow. “See those lights? There goes Santa!” But, you know what? I knew that was just a car’s red tail lights. Under city streetlights, I didn’t see Santa’s sleigh! Where were all the reindeer? And Rudolph with his nose so bright? He was supposed to lead the way! I knew every word of that story, remember?! Right then and there, I was so disillusioned that I never believed in Santa again! And dear Grammy never knew about my big disappointment…
Writing this story, I had to find out who played Santa. From my Aunt Hilda, I learned that Richard Andela was our Santa. Richie actually worked with her husband, Roy Oostdyk, at his Gulf gas station on Main Street in Clifton… where my father also worked on Saturdays over the years when we lived in Clifton. No wonder Susan was so comfortable talking with him! Oh, the precious memories of childhood that we hold onto!
Yet, there is someone I can believe in without disappointment… for eternity. For me, it’s the baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas… Jesus, the Light of the world, our Lord and Savior. “For God [our heavenly Father] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 KJV)
With the busy holiday shopping extravaganza, commercialization and our hectic schedules, I think we sometimes lose a little of the joy and wonder that must have been felt on that very first Christmas… and perhaps we, too, forget to make room amidst the hustle and bustle for this precious little baby. Like us at times, another youngster was once trying to find the right things to help him celebrate, but nothing seemed to go right for him either.
“It was finally Christmastime, the best time of the year. The houses were strung with tiny colored lights, their windows shining with a warm yellow glow only Christmas could bring. The scents of pine needles and hot cocoa mingled together, wafting through the air, and the sweet sounds of Christmas carols could be heard in the distance. Fluffy white snowflakes tumbled from the sky onto a group of joyful children as they sang and laughed, skating on the frozen pond in town. Everyone was happy and full of holiday cheer. That is, everyone except for Charlie Brown…”
“Charlie (to Linus): ‘I think there must be something wrong with me. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I might be getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel…’”
“Later, after a day of frustrations, Charlie said: ‘I guess you were right Linus; I shouldn’t have picked this little tree. Everything I do turns into a disaster! I guess I don’t really know what Christmas is about. Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?’”
“Linus quietly said: ‘Sure, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.’ [Walking to the center of the stage, Linus speaks.] ‘And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not! For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.’ And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’” [Luke 2:8-14, KJV] *
Did you notice that Linus dropped his security blanket while saying “Fear not” in the film? He knew Who to trust and believe! And that’s what Christmas is all about.
Wishing A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all!
Linda A. Roorda
Is there no room, no room in my heart?
Midst all the trinkets this world can offer,
What do I value and treasure the most…
Things that decay or things of the heart?
It seems I’ve filled my heart with worry
Frets and concerns of every-day life.
My wants and wishes each clamor for time
Leaving scant room for what matters more.
Like the innkeeper from long ago
He with no room sent seekers away
Little did he know, the love they carried
Was in the babe about to be born.
This babe grew strong and embraced the weak
An emissary of love sent to our world.
How else could He know what this life was like
Except to become like one of us?
Tempted and tried amidst the world’s cares
Unrecognized, despised and rejected.
No room in their hearts to welcome salvation
No room for love and gifts eternal.
Still, we are drawn to this man unique…
One who went seeking the hopeless and lost,
Forgiving our pasts, making new from worn
He who has room in His heart for us.
Is there no room, no room in my heart,
Midst all the trinkets this world can offer?
Yes, there is room for the One I treasure…
The precious babe, my Savior and Lord!
12/21/16 – 12/29/16
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*1965 TV special: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles M. Schulz.