Thursday, 22 May 2014

Real Santa Claus, False Santa Claus

Dear Virginia,

     You are a bit older now, and you wrote to ask why it is that you continue believing in Santa Claus.  You ask if it is proper to cling on to such childish notions or if perhaps it might be a fear of death, growing old, or entering the challenges of adult life.   My understanding, and applying that understanding strictly to my own condition, is that you are an intelligent girl.  You know that Santa Claus as depicted in the literature is a Santa Claus that is real only to children.  They can see him....because they can see him....and not just as a colourful picture on a page.

     It is probable that, while awaiting their assignments in some other place before their birth, they might even have seen him and spoken with him.   I know that the day-care facility there must have been crowded and busy, but it is almost certain that the good and generous Bishop tried to pat every head, regardless of the colour and structure of the hair upon that head.

     So we move past our confirmations, bar mitzvahs, and altar calls and into horrors and pleasures of "real" life, only rarely seeing the glimpses of our image of Saint Nicolas, as if he were a shadow of a shadow.  I, for instance, saw him recently at the pub where I stop at least twice a week.  He was at the bar, laughing and enjoying the fraternity, and he was sitting with his friend.   That friend was the same Samaritan who had stopped to render aid to the Jew who had been assaulted by bandits on the road.   As you know Virginia,  Samaritans were a peculiar people of the Holy Land who practiced a faith made up of pagan worship, naturism, and Judaism.  They seemed to feel the need to cover all their bases.

     So, imagine the spectacle of a Greek who worked in Turkey talking and yukking it up with some kind of Semitic-Phoenician whose only binding would have had to have been that they both had lived on or near the Mediterranean Sea.   And, one other thing;   spontaneous generosity.
     One was drinking a Heinekens and the other a Corona with know....a couple of Orthodox.   In a second, Santa Claus caught my simultaneous glance with his eye, and he knew that I "knew".  He said something to the Samaritan, who then turned discreetly to see the Gentile who "knew".     Apparently he approved, because the two went back to their notes, comparisons, and experiences with the fools that mortals be.
     I stayed for a bit, meeting and greeting fellows of acquaintance in the Manhattan madness.  These places were always almost...but not quite...crowded.   People could order a half-sandwich (for me, pastrami on rye w/horseradish and a Coca-Cola).  The Jew - owner behind the counter would always, always, always say...'' Yeah! I sell them a half at a time, because they're so good that the next guy in the door will buy the other half.  That way instead of losing a dime on every sandwich, I only lose a nickel)...and the people sitting and standing around the bar would laugh, order another beer, pay out, and make room for the next hapless Gentile that could never get enough of the good food and ambience.
    The pickle was finished and the bill called for, but Levi, never looking up, say,"Achh!  Your Uncle Nikko paid you out already.   I haven't seen him for awhile.  He's lookin' pretty fit for an old guy!"
     I protested a bit, but Levi said," ....oh..just leave a tip in the jar...then ,,, fardinen a mitzvah my savtah would say....go look it up and get out of here...yer train is leaving!!"   Always impatient, always grousing, always generous.

Inside view of Grand Central Station in these times

      Virginia, this I went to the fabulous Grand Central...but just before entering there was the boy who almost finishing at the Lorillard and trying to make a few shekels, but mainly trying to overcome his inborn stage shyness as well.  He is quite a good violinist, and for the last year he has been standing up to the maddening rush, on the sidewalk.   This time I finally left him was only a 10 dollar bill, but it will buy a few strings.

     So then, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.   But always beware of the Government trying to play the role of Santa Claus.  The "very real" Santa Claus is a fake and leads to ruin and corruption and misery with his false gifts and bondage.   The Santa Claus that is seen by children....and only occasionally by us old people who moves us to generosity...that is the real Santa Claus who has always existed and who forever will exist.

And here is a gift for you!

El Gringo Viejo
Sometime long after the last...and well before the next...Feast of the Nativity.
And to all a good night.