Saturday, December 24, 2016

Santa Serocci and the Life-Changing Pack He Threw Over His Shoulder

   I should tell you about the South Pole Santa. Tom Serocci by name, he grew up in the back reaches of the South Pole. Unlike the North Pole Santa, Santa Serocci doesn't come around every year. In fact, there was only that one year that he made his rounds.
   I know of him, because my door was one of the relatively few he knocked on. I guess it must have been July -- the middle of summer -- when I heard this knocking on my door. I hustled over to answer his knock to see this guy in a blue Santa suit standing there, looking a little nervous.
  "Hello," he offered, "and merry Christmas!"
   I looked back at him a little dumbfounded.
   "Merry Christmas," he whispered again, nervously. "I hope you'll forgive me for stopping by so far removed from Christmas Day, but if I'm going to visit every home in the world, I'm going to need a world of time to do it. So, I thought I'd get a head start on the other Santa."
   "Other Santa?" I muttered, still recovering from the shock of what I was seeing.
   "Yes, you know, the one in the red suit. He has that flying sleigh and somehow visits every home all in one night."
   "Yeah," I said.
   "Well, anyway, I better tell you why I came, why I'm here."
   "Yeah?"
    "Yeah. I just thought it might be a good idea to visit everybody and tell them what Christmas is about."
   "Yeah?"
   "Yeah. I mean, it ain't about me, and it ain't about that other Santa, and it ain't about toys."
   "No?"
   There was a pause. And I waited to see if he was going to say it was about the Savior's birth.
   "It's about change," he said.
   "Yeah?"
   "Yeah. It's about change. It's all about change. You see, there was this little baby born in Bethlehem. He grew up, and then he died, and his dying changed everything."
   Displaying my big vocabulary, I once again said, "Yeah?"
   "Yeah. I guess he took on the sins of the whole world."
   "Okay," I said, "and what does that mean?"
    He paused, again, and I don't know if he did it for dramatic effect or just because he was nervous.
   "Change," he said, drawing the word out. "It means you can change. You can repent of your sins and change, and he'll forgive you of ever having sinned. You're a changed person."
   "Okay" I said, again, thinking the word "okay" had proven a nice change-up from "yeah."
   He swung his pack over his shoulder and started to walk away. "Well, that's all I wanted to say," he said. "Guess I better be going. I've a lot of folks to visit."
   "Just a minute. What's in that pack on your shoulder?"
   "Nothing." He finished walking down my sidewalk, pulled the gate shut behind him, and was about to walk away. But, then he stopped and looked firmly back at me. "Well, yeah, I guess there is something in the pack," he said.
   "Yeah? -- I mean, okay?"
   "Yeah. There's 365 days in this pack."
    I just looked at him, once again dumbfounded.
    "Yeah," he said. "There's 365 days to do all the changing. See, Christmas isn't just about Christmas Day; It's about what you do and how you change on the other 364 days of the year. You gotta celebrate Christmas all year long if you're going to do it at all."
   "Yeah?"
   "Yeah," he said, and he walked off into the night.

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