"Ma" (Laura) cried. "There is a Santa Claus, isn't there?"
"Of course there's a Santa Claus," said Ma. She set the iron on the stove...
"The older you are, the more you know about Santa Claus" she said. "You are so big now, you know he can't be just one man, don't you? You know he is everywhere on Christmas Eve. He is in the Big Woods.... and here. He comes down all the chimneys at the same time. You know that, don't you?"
"I guess he is like angels" Mary said....
Then Ma told them something else about Santa Claus. He was everywhere, and besides that, he was all the time.
Whenever anyone was unselfish, that was Santa Claus.
Christmas Eve was the time when everybody was unselfish. On that one night, Santa Claus was everywhere, because everybody, all together, stopped being selfish and wanted other people to be happy. And in the morning you saw what that had done.
"If everybody wanted everybody else to be happy, all the time, then would it be Christmas all the time?" Laura asked, and Ma said, "Yes, Laura."
So, this is my take on Santa. At our house we all fill everyone's stockings. Even when the kids were tots, they contributed "some pieces of money" to buy something to put in the stocking of each person who would be there Christmas morning. They get all excited about planning and executing this, which matters to me more than what they give. Bug likes to give mixed whole nuts, Pook goes for lifesavers candy often. One year Bug picked dried fruit to put in them.
We take turns Christmas eve just before we go to bed, each person in the room alone to fill them privately. After taking a turn as Santa, each person gets to ring the sleigh bells before heading up to bed. We usually go by age, but I get to go last, which is good since by then things sometimes spill out onto nearby chairs.
Since all of us have been Santa for all of their lives I have hoped for a smooth transition. Last year the boys were still adamant that the big guy in a red suit living at the North Pole would be leaving gifts. This year we seem to have fewer gifts (perhaps each is bigger?) and I don't have anything easily left to be "from Santa." And so, I'm not going to leave any out, unwrapped, on the hearth. I have lots of fun gifts to cram into stockings but I think the big guy is leaving the room. Metaphorically! I'll keep all the unselfishness.
Merry Christmas to all. And to all, a good night.