Christmas in July- I hate the
marketing ploy idea, and yet, there’s no other way around sharing this experience with you. Stay with me… there’s a couple of stories that will eventually gel into packages wrapped in a bow.
When I was a wee bit of a thing I met the REAL Santa.
Well, not really ‘met’, so much as ‘heard’, but that was all it took to develop a life long love affair with an overweight older man who sprouted a proficient beard yellowed by pipe smoke who wore a ridiculous red suit and broke into my house once a year.
It went something like this: I woke up one Christmas Eve to the sounds of activity down the hall.
I passed my parent’s room and took a look- sleeping.
I took a few more steps down the hall and…
What was I doing? Was this allowed? Would he be pissed? Would I jinx the whole gift leaving thing? What if he scolded me? How would I defend myself, “Well ya shouldn’t have made so much noise ya big fat baby-man!”? What if I fainted? What if my stocking was filled with coal? (It was usually oranges which was just about as disappointing).
cut my losses count my blessings and mosey back to bed.
The next morning found not only a Barbie Dream House but a fabu pair of leather boots . SCORE.
He had been busy… getting ME right.
Ever since then the jolly elf and I have been on very good terms.
I love him really. And I know his REAL story. And we all know that if you have a REAL story then everything else that follows must be true- non?
His REAL Story:
A son, named Nicholas, is born to wealthy devout Christians in non- Christian Persian-ruled Patara, Turkey. He is orphaned as a teenager and decides to use his wealth to take care of the needy. He does such a good job that he is imprisoned for a while. After the Turks had to let him out ’cause they needed the space for real criminals like murderers, the Vatican, secretly made him the Bishop of the neighborhood, because in for a penny in for a pound… of gold coins to support the Papacy in lieu of adoration from Above.
The newly anointed Bishop of Myra continues his good works which included a special affinity in helping children, even dropping three bags of gold down a poor father’s chimney so that the dad wouldn’t have to sell his kids into slavery- those kinds of good works in the Ottoman Empire.
So, there he goes help help help give give give and he eventually dies because he’s human, but people still talk about him for ages, and some even believe that if they pray to him their lives are the better for it, and after a few hundred years of unfettered devotion the know-it-alls in Rome decide to canonize him and he becomes Saint Nicholas, patron to children (as well as others).
The red suit, the reindeer, the sleigh, the workshop, the elves- I don’t have a clue- except I suspect Madison Ave. had a hand it it– come later.
From here my story diverges into Story #2.
Stick with me now…
Last month, after a dusty ride in a motor coach through the winding green vales of the Emerald Isle, we made an unexpected stop by a working farm where we were told we would be served a traditional Irish tea and observe a man training border collies to herd sheep.
Okay. I’m ready for tea.
Why, isn’t this charming! White washed buildings, flowers in abundance, dry stacked stone walls. What’s not to love? Good call!
Tea in the converted stables? Charming.
Scones fresh baked? Delightful.
Hosted by Maeve, the lady of the house? How lovely.
A historical overview of the property by Joe, the gentleman of the house? Of course.
But what’s that I just heard him say? I need to listen more intently but the jam and fresh whipped butter are somehow being supernaturally injected into my mouth. YumYumYum
Listen better Cheryl! Damn you he’s your host. Show some respect you hungry wench.
But did I hear him correctly? Is the thick Irish brogue playing tricks on my ears?
The remains of a Medieval town discovered on their land.
Was once an Abby here.
Locals ventured far and away to crusade for Rome.
Some where Knighted.
And two brought back St. Nicholas, and his remains are interred over the way.
“Bryn, did you hear what I just heard?”
“I don’t know Mom, I think he said that Santa Klaus is buried here.”
“Here? Like HERE? Outside? St. Nick. Did you hear St. Nick? Has the tea been spiked?”
“I think that’s what he said and the tea isn’t spiked unless you’ve tipped your stash. Mom! Do you have a flask?”
“For God’s sake, look away. I’m asking about what he said.”
“I heard it too.”
“Dear Baby Jesus. I have to ask… handwavinghandwaving Excuse me. Excuse me. Hello Joe. My name is Cheryl. I’m afraid I may have misunderstood what you just shared about your wonderful property. Who is buried here? I could have sworn I heard you say St. Nicholas. Hahahaaa”
“T’was him alright. The patron Saint ’emself. Brought back in the crusades for safe keepin’ by two Knights, local boys from da village.”
“Aside from making my greatest wish, 18 centuries later, come true, why would they have done this?”
” T’was the habit of crusaders to remove Christian artifacts from pagan lands in the east and find a place for safe keepin’ in the civilized world . It also didn’t hurt the commerce of a place to have a bit o’cloth or a bit o’bone, somethin’ that would draw pilgrims to a place.”
“Okay. So I get the commerce aspect but you’re implying that his earthy remains are here. Like in HERE? Over there- whatever”
“Yes I am.”
“How did this come to be discovered?”
“Well, the church itself is St.Nicholas church, renamed such, in, or around, 1200 AD, at the close of the Crusades, and a tomb is present that depicts the blessed Saint himself, with all the symbolism that identifies him. The lore has been a part of this area for centuries.”
“So it’s a Story with a REAL background and some
dubious fantastic research to support it? In addition it’s a GREAT story and you are, thus, compelled to throw the best Christmas on the entire planet, am I right? And your children, who are Living The Dream, will most likely be mounting a slam-dunk of a case for Knighthood if for no other reason then to protect the Realm of Childhood and all that I hold truly important like generosity, hope, and gifts in a certain blue box?”
“That ‘tit tis.”
Good enough for me.
Take me to him.
I’ve got a list he’s been waiting for.