As a timely reminder of what Christmas is really about I found a leaflet that my youngest daughter had brought home from school several years ago. The leaflet was entitled "The True Meaning of Christmas" and had been prepared by Woodlands Junior School in Kent.
The story within the leaflet is entitled "Teach the Children" - this is it:
I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.
"What are you doing?" I started to ask. The words choked up in my throat, and I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone ws the eager, boisterous character we all know.
He then answered me with a simple statement.
"TEACH THE CHILDREN"
I was puzzled; what did he mean? He guessed my question, and with one quick movement pulled a miniature toy bag from behind the tree.
As I stood puzzled, Santa said,
"Teach the children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that now-a-days Christmas has forgotten."
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a Fir Tree and placed it in front of the fire place. "Teach the children that the pure green colour of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, representing the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven."
He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant Star.
"Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Saviour for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise."
He then reached into his bag and pulled out a Candle.
"Teach the children that the candle symbolises that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of Jesus who fills our lives with light."
Once again he reached into his bag and removed a Wreath and placed it on the tree.
"Teach the children that the wreath symbolises the real nature of love. Real love never ceases, like God's love which has no beginning or end."
He then pulled from his bag an ornament of Himself.
"Teach the children that I, Santa Claus symbolise the generosity and kindness we feel during the month of December."
He then brought out a Holly Leaf.
"Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Saviour. The red holly represents the blood shed by Him."
Next he pulled from his bag a Gift and said,
"Teach the children that God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son ...We thank God for his very special gift."
"Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the Holy Baby and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men."
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a Sugar Cane and hung it on the tree.
"Teach the children that the sugar cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back lost sheep to the flock."
He reached in again and pulled out an Angel
"Teach the children that it was the angels that announced the glorious news of the Saviour's birth. The angels sang "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men."
Suddenly, I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a Bell.
"Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring to guide us to God. The bell symbolises guidance and return. It reminds us that we are all precious in the eyes of God."
Santa looked back and was pleased. I saw the twinkle in his eyes as he said:
"Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the centre, for I am but an humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our Lord, our God.
I had forgotten that I still had this leaflet but am glad that I found it again.