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Tag Archive: St. Nicholas

Dec 25

The Christmas grandma forgot to cook. First printed in December of 2006 in The Examiner, an eastern Jackson County daily newspaper.

With apologies to author Clement Clark Moore who was thought to have penned  ’The Night Before Christmas’ in 1823. Here’s my take on this delightful Christmas classic poem…

twas-the-night-before-christmas-little-golden-book-cover

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the house, the grandkids were running and chasing a mouse.

The stockings, hung by the chimney with care, were falling into the fire before I could get there.

Only one of the grandkids was nestled snug in her bed, while her brother and cousins danced and jumped on their heads.

Papa in his slippers, and I in my wrap, longed to settle down for a cozy afternoon nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, more grandkids arrived to add to the chatter.

Away to the coffee table I flew like a flash, put away vases, pictures and books before they were trashed.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, meant more kith and kin would come soon with toddlers in tow.

When what to my aging eyes should appear, but a van load of college students with eight cans of beer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be Uncle Rick.

More rapid than eagles, the relatives came, as I whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now, Auntie! Now, Uncle! Now, Nephew and Niece! On, Grandpa! On Grandson! On Brother and Sis!”

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, Papa whispered, “Dash away! Dash away! Dash away all.”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, the hungry settled round the table ready to eat ‘til they die.

So up to the kitchen, I flew like a flash, threw open the empty cupboards and searched for some cash.

With a purse full of bills and no time to blink, I drove straight to the deli but was soon back at the sink.

There was no food to be had in our little berg; the shops were all closed, the keepers gone home. There was nothing to feed this hungry, wild herd.

And then in a twinkling, I heard in the drive, the screeching and stopping of each giant tire.

As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney the Schwan’s man came with a bound.

A bundle of boxes he had flung on his back, and he looked like a St. Nicholas just opening his pack.

My eyes how they twinkled! My heart how merry! He had entrees, desserts, and even frozen cherries.

He had hams and turkeys, gravy and pie. Casseroles, pizzas, chicken, oh my!

A wink of his eye and a check of his supply, soon gave me to know there was plenty to buy.

There were scalloped potatoes, California blend veggies, green beans and corn, frozen fruits galore, peppermint ice cream and chocolate cake rolls.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work and filled our fridge, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, into his yellow truck he rose.

I sprang to the task; serving up the stash, and to my guests gave a whistle.
They flew to the table like down on a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,

“Next year lady, buy your food ahead a fortnight (and don’t forget to cook)!”

Dec 30

Learning how to become a Secret Santa

Haven’t you always wanted to be a Secret Santa but have no idea how to begin, and perchance, are you afraid of doing it all wrong anyway?

Enter Larry Stewart, Kansas City’s famed Secret Santa, someone with a very big heart who is showing us how to help those in need.

The legend of St. Nicholas is alive and well in the heartland because of this out-of-the- ordinary Secret Santa who calls Kansas City home.

It was a noble calling Larry Stewart answered 26 years ago when he decided to spread his joy and cash around the Midwest. Eventually, he took his mission nationwide.

Like St. Nicholas, Stewart gives to those in need as he hands out $100 bills, sometimes by the handful, to complete strangers during the Christmas season.

After more than a quarter of a century of anonymous giving, Kansas City’s now celebrated Secret Santa revealed his identity in November of 2006 in order to teach others how to perform random acts of kindness.

Larry Stewart, currently battling cancer, is committed to cloning other Secret Santas while he can. His website (secretsantausa.com) tells us how.

As the old Chinese saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.”

Are we students ready?

How does Larry Stewart do it anyway?

Come to think of it, how does any ordinary person learn to become St. Nicholas, aka Larry Stewart?

How do we give to those in need without committing acts of foolish generosity or engaging in reckless spending that could hurt worse than it helps?

I have heard some say that whenever they have enough money to hand out hundreds they will do it gladly. Others say that when they have enough funds to buy a complete turkey or ham dinner with all the trimmings, they will surprise a needy family.

The truth is that by waiting until we can do things in a big way, we often end up doing nothing at all.

Mother Teresa once said “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

Buy a jug of milk, not a turkey dinner. Buy a pair of shoes for one person. We do not have to outfit an entire family. Give $5 bills instead of hundreds to random strangers. We do not have to wait for the holiday season either, any time will do.

Although we may not have Larry Stewart’s cash, we can have his big heart.

In order to learn how to become a Secret Santa, we have to start small.

Larry Stewart emulates St. Nicholas himself so some perspective on the first Santa Claus might be in order.

The story of Santa Claus begins with the tale of a young man named Nicholas, who in the third century followed the credo of sharing whatever little he had with the poor. Throughout history, stories tell of how he became a generous benefactor and helper of those in need.

Nicholas lost everything as a young man. His wealthy parents died, and with their passing, his secure and protected lifestyle was gone.

Raised to be a devout Christian, Nicholas used his entire and meager inheritance to help the needy and anyone who was sick or suffering.

Over time, legends grew about the wondrous deeds of St. Nicholas, eventually earning him sainthood.

Sailors adopted him as their patron, Catholics and Orthodox venerated him, and Protestants honored him.

Stewart, just like Nicholas, lost his parents. Orphaned and without inheritance, Stewart was raised by his grandparents.

Kindly strangers who helped Larry Stewart along the way taught him by example how to give anonymously and without expectation of reward.

The teacher is here, are we students ready?