When I was a child growing up in El Dorado, every couple of years toward the end of December my dad would tell us he got a call from Secret Santa. Another family needed help that holiday season.
Secret Santa worked in the public school system. Santa always knew who was in need and made sure those who needed the most had a Christmas.
Each time Santa called Dad, the size of the family and the ages of their children were different. Their requests were usually modest, ranging from mittens to new bicycles.
As a young person, it was difficult for me to imagine requesting mittens for Christmas. We had all we needed and more. I do not suppose at the time I successfully was able to relate to the families for whom we went shopping, yet the experience of helping other families with their Christmases stuck with me.
My mom, dad, sister and I all went shopping together. Dad usually purchased more than the family requested. We would come home and wrap the presents, and then on Christmas Eve after dark, we would drive by a house and leave the gifts on someone’s doorsteps.
We tiptoed up the stairs, carefully set down the loot and ran back to the car. We never knew who we were shopping for, but we always hoped we selected the correct gifts.
I was in middle school or high school when Santa started calling Dad. During those teenage years, I am sure I thought I already knew everything, that no Secret Santa could leave an impression. Yet here I am, 20 years later, still talking about the experience.
With two children of my own, 7 and 9, I find myself wanting to show them how giving works. As a single parent, I probably cannot provide an entire Christmas for a family at this point in my life, but we can do something.
Looking back, I think about Secret Santa and how many families that person helped while working in the schools. Who knows how many other benefactors Santa found to call in our community as Santa orchestrated happy Christmases for all – or at least all Santa knew.
How many children witnessed their parents sharing what they had with another family? I am sure I gained more from the experience than the children whose families needed the help did, although I can imagine the weight off the shoulders of the parents who no longer had to stress about Santa gifts.
Consider how many times I passed it forward partly due to what Secret Santa demonstrated, an attitude of giving, an attitude that is now being passed down to my children. Think of the other households where the children learned the same lessons. All because of just one Secret Santa.
Santa, you might be secret, but your giving spirit is something we can all share.
- Kristin Baker