Youth Keep Christmas Spirit Alive

Kate Ginley, Staff Writer

All of my childhood I received letters from Santa Claus that said he was proud of me.

It was gratifying to know that the man with all the presents liked me.

When I was twelve, I stumbled upon an email in my family’s inbox from a company called SantaLetters4Kids. I clicked on the site link and found letters formatted and phrased just like the ones I had been receiving each year. My adolescent mind connected the dots.

I was heartbroken.

I proceeded to run into my older sister’s room, screaming that our parents had lied to us. Shockingly, she nodded her head, knowingly. My faith crumbled as Santa, the Easter bunny, and the Tooth fairy were turned to myth.

Since then I’ve harbored more than a little bitterness; But on the 13th of December of 2014, I stumbled upon a charity event sponsored by Moraga’s Leo Club that renewed, or rather, transformed my Christmas spirit.

“We have the kids come in for this charity called Be The Star You Are and its basically promoting literacy in all kids that are all really young from everywhere. So they put on this little fundraiser and take a picture with Santa outside and then they come inside and they can write a letter to Santa and make a craft,” said Campolindo junior Ashley Locket, as I scanned groups of children busily working on various crafts.

“And then once their pictures are processed they can just make a little card for all their friends and family,” Locket continued. “It’s important to me because you get to see the joy in the kids watching them write a letter to Santa and be all excited about Christmas, so it really brings together the family spirit which is really nice.”

Intrigued by her warmth and enthusiasm, I sat down to talk to the kids. A kindergardener named Inga Markey was in the midst of building a snowman at the arts and crafts table when she asked if I was one of Santa’s elves. Surprised and unprepared, I stuttered, “Yes, I’m on the news division-North Pole News!”

I proceeded to ask her what she wanted for Christmas. To which she responded, “For Christmas? I want a Christmas tree.”

It never occurred to me that this girl might not have a Christmas tree. Many people don’t have Christmas trees and I was selfishly ignorant of that fact as I complained about Christmas.

Santa Claus may not be real but that doesn’t mean the spirit of Christmas isn’t. Everyone has felt that magic, snuggling with family under the twinkling lights of an evergreen or sipping hot cocoa in front of a warming fire.

I turned to Markey’s sister, Fiona, and asked her why she liked Santa Claus. “That he comes and gives us presents; but that’s not the real meaning of Christmas. Its that Jesus was born and that’s how Christmas was made. Santa just gives us presents ’cause he’s nice,” Fiona explained.

I was blown away by the second grader’s wisdom. She knew the true meaning of Christmas, while too many of us are hung up on the receiving of gifts. I felt bad about myself as I talked to the Leo Club members and the kids they served.

The reality that these girls, who did not have what most Moraga kids take for granted, but still embraced the compassion and selflessness demonstrated by the story of Jesus, was humbling.

It is the pure of heart, like the innocent kids that stood before me that day, who represent the true meaning of the holiday. Christmas isn’t about an overweight distributor of gifts. It’s about faith in compassion carrying the day.