I’ve often been asked by young parents how we explained Santa to our children when they were young. One day, my friend Patti brought that question up again in the conversation. After hearing of our tradition of the "Spirit of Santa," Patti, like so many others, told me she was adopting it, too. It was Patti, who suggested that I write it down and share it with everyone; so here it is. Thanks Patti.

My husband and I didn’t want to weave a fairy tale that would unravel in time. We wanted to give our children a belief that couldn't disintegrate, nor become just one more childhood delusion; yet, something that could stand the "test of time." Many young parents put their faith in one, lone mortal entity and then when the test is given it if fails. We decided to put our faith in the "Spirit of Santa." Over the years since we first revealed it to our children, it’s been tested and hasn't fallen short of what we know to truly represent the Season of Giving. It gave us as parents a good feeling to give our children something that could continue to thrive in truth.

You see, there is a Spirit in each of us that is non-judgmental, giving, loving, understanding and forgiving. It may shine only the slightest light at the beginning, yet when the lessons are learned and the time is right, its glow grows and awakens, to warm the hearts of others.

We assured them that the "Spirit of Santa" is alive and can be found in everyone. If they saw more than one physical representation of Santa, they could accept each was indeed a unique likeness. Acknowledging the "Spirit of Santa" found in each of us means that when one entity is no longer present, the Spirit continues on in those who remain. What the children saw with their young eyes were people giving to others. Whenever the opportunity arose, we reinforced the teaching by pointing out living examples where people were giving of themselves to others, including those less fortunate, all year round. As the "Spirit of Santa" gave, our children were able to see with their hearts as well as their intellect those true miracles and treasures that reach beyond measure.

In the "Spirit of Santa" one present is placed under the tree on Christmas Eve for each child. The present is usually something that can only be used when shared with someone else. It isn't a game or a toy that becomes solely his or her possession. The gift is a catalyst that keeps the sharing alive all year long. It might be a sewing kit, art supplies, crafts, clay, or paints that allow them to create something and then give it again as a gift. Or, it could be a game that requires more than one player.

Surprisingly, it wasn't the most popular gift of the year. Even more surprisingly, it was truly welcomed, enjoyed, and became a treasure. Some of these gifts involved our parental interaction to teach them the many ways the gift could be enjoyed. Through their own creativity, in the making, giving, sharing and receiving, there was abundance and joy.

So now, let me describe how we happened on the special wrapping paper for these gifts. When we bought our home, we found a large roll of Christmas bakery wrapping paper in the garage loft. It was as a blessing that year because we were low on funds. We used that paper to wrap our presents to each other. We laughed at how much of a Godsend it was, as were so many other miracles that were happening in our lives. At first the paper had no significant meaning and definitely was not a popular design of that year or any year to come. It was a simple design with green Christmas trees and red swirls, and resembled something from the 1920's. What became significant was that the gifts that year, and in years to come, though wrapped in this simplest of paper, were the dearest gifts given and received. They were wrapped with love. Neither store-bought wrappings nor costly presents had the value found in these gifts of the heart. After the first year we only wrapped those presents given to our children in the "Spirit of Santa" with this "special paper." Now, more than twenty-five years later some special paper is still hidden in my closet.

What better gift can we give our children then something that lives on and endures - something they can truly believe in as well as see with their own eyes, feel in their own hearts, and accept knowingly in their own logical minds. Giving the gift of the "Spirit of Santa" is giving the gift of possibilities. When you give the gift of possibility, the greater gift is watching what unfolds!

Author's Bio: 

Born on Sunday May 7, 1950, in St. Louis, Missouri; here are some milestones in my simple life. In 1956 my mother died. Restless, Dad moved us often. We went to Catholic schools and lived in clean, safe neighborhoods; walking to all our destinations. I attended four high schools in four hears and graduated in 1968; when I turned down a job offer from the FBI. In 1971 I went on my first solo vacation to Hawaii. February 17, 1973 I married John Charles Long and we bought our home at 1531 Shoppers Lane, in Crestwood, MO, where we lived for the next twenty years. On March 12, 1974 Jason Michael Long was born to us, a month overdue, with all the features and characteristics of a one-month-old child. On April 18, 1977 Gina Maria Long was born to us. She was so tiny, and squeaked when she breathed. They told us it would stop in time; and it did! After 20 years of marriage, in 1993, I gave John his freedom through the legalities of divorce. December 15, 1988, after a stroke, my dad passed on at 71. In 1995, John was informed he had contracted leukemia. We reconciled; two weeks later he died. In December of 1998, after 30 years working at one financial firm, my boss died unexpectedly, new management took over, and I became a self-employed consultant. One assignment was on the Y2k team for Busch Entertainment where I surprisingly found myself inches away from Baby Shamu when it did its first trick in training! December 1999, I joined Morgan Stanley and witnessed 911 from an insider’s point of view. In August of 2002 I left to pursue a career helping people with Reiki. It wasn’t the right time, place, or job. In December 2002 I began creating floral arrangements; consulting; and working on my web site. After being invited to a Torah study group and sharing my first Passover; realizing that I was a Jewish soul all along, on January 24, 2003 I became a Jew, taking “Simcha (Joy)” as my new Jewish name. My writings in my book “Visions” reflect aspects of the Jewish faith long and who I was long before I knew there was a connection. Michele Christina Camilla Messina Long