The Soul of Santa Story
The story of the Soul of Santa begins in a small town in the north east. The family is fairly large. There are 9 children, four boys and five girls. Our main character is a boy, Tommy, roughly 9 years old. The father is a truck driver and spends all of his time on the road working for what is about minimum wage. The mother is a stay at home mom and has never really worked but is well read with a high IQ. She was salutatorian of her graduating class in a neighboring town but wasn’t allowed to be validictorian because she was a woman….and she was black. These two things would never seem to change because she had graduated nearly twenty years before this story begins.
Our main character, who we will call Tommy, was the number four child out of nine. He was always near his mother because he felt she always needed his help. The family was close, as were most families in that day, but they were very poor. The family was rather large compared to the rest of the African American households in the area. However, the father managed to buy a house in a white neighborhood. That meant they were subject to racial slurs and discriminatory practices all the time.
For example, their dogs were poisoned. Many of the neighbors forbid the children to play in their yards. If any of them strayed into the white neighborhoods, they were sometimes chased home by the meanest dog the white neighbors could find just to show them that they were not welcome. Even though there was much ridicule, there were other white children that didn’t see color.
Tommy had a lot of friends at school. Many of them remained friends for many years after he left the area. But there were many days when he could barely get out of bed for fear that embarrassment would haunt him throughout the day.
Because he was so poor, there were times when he had to go to school with holes in the soles of his shoes. Or, the sole would come apart and he would “flap” his way across the hallway and everyone could hear him coming. To avoid the embarrassment, Tommy would sometimes cut the sole flap off and place cardboard in his shoe so he wouldn’t feel the rocks and gravel on the sidewalk or the burning heat of the pavement.
The most difficult part was to attend class as the only black, or “Negro” as they would say in that day. Every time the word was read aloud, all of the children would look at Tommy, some kindly and others with ridicule. The school board decided that it would not be beneficial to the school for all the children in Tommy’s family to attend the same elementary school so they mandated that the family be split to attend different schools, even though there was a school three blocks away. There was no bussing so each child had to walk to school, no matter how far away it was.
Tommy knew he had to compete to avoid being stereotyped as the dumb colored boy. The teachers, at least some of them, and most of his peers expected him to be at the bottom of the class. But thanks to a strong mother who believed in setting goals and the fundamentals of reading, Tommy always stayed in the top third of the class. After a few years, he earned respect from most of his classmates. He only had problems with the poor white students who came from rather poor backgrounds with uneducated parents. They were mostly boys.
Next door to the elementary school was a home for foster children who were waiting to be placed in foster homes. Many of those kids never left that home until they were 18 years old. Taking in foster children just wasn’t popular in those days. Those children suffered ridicule just like the black children, but being black still left you at the bottom of the list.
Sundays were spent like any other day, playing and studying. Every now and then Tommy would go to the local AME church. His mother told him about God and right versus wrong, but he didn’t really learn about Jesus until much later in life. That’s not to say that Jesus wasn’t present in some manner. Tommy just never attended enough church to remember what he was taught. Nevertheless, he somehow began to grasp the meaning of right and wrong and he carried those lessons in his heart.
Since Tommy’s dad was a truck driver, he was “on the road” five days a week. When he would come home from the road on Friday, it was a joyous event. It’s not that there was a lot of celebrating, it’s that all of the children were happy to see dad. For Tommy, Friday was a buildup for him. He looked forward to completing his week with the arrival of dad. While he really loved his mother, she just couldn’t take the place of having a man to look up to, a real dad like all of the other kids in his school talked about. After all, dad is who Tommy looked to emulate. He was a “man”. Even though he really never saw him much, all he could remember was that when dad came home, there would most likely be food on the table for that good Sunday meal. And Saturday morning meant there would be milk to eat with his favorite cold cereal, corn flakes.
But there were a lot of mouths to feed. For several years there was an uncle and his family who lived with them. That meant the house was crowded, but they were kids and it was all fun.
But even though dad would come home on most Fridays, that didn’t mean there would always be food to eat. There were many days when all his mother could muster up was beans with and rice with homemade biscuits made from scratch. They were delicious but he was always hoping for meat. Most of the time, meat was served on Sunday. If you were not at the table to eat, you may miss out. There were never left-over’s.
There was never enough money for clothes. Much of the clothing came from the second hand store or from some white folks who gave used clothes away to his grandmother. Nana, as she was called, was a domestic worker. That’s eventually what Tommy’s mother became as well. Most of the time her job was to fill in for Nana when she was sick.
There was a friendly Mom and Pop grocer nearby called Fritz’s. Mr. Fritz felt sorry for the family so he had a “buy now pay later” policy for Tommy’s mother because he knew the household was poor and always in need. He carried the note for the groceries when there was no money to pay with. They were good to Tommy’s family.
The reason Tommy had an instinct about right and wrong was because he knew Fritz to be a friend. Fritz was a little Jewish man who never missed a day of work. It seemed like either he or his wife Rose would have that store open all of the time.
One day Tommy was hungry and didn’t have a penny for a pretzel or anything. So he decided to go to the store and steal a candy bar. He knew it was stealing because he couldn’t pay for it.
Low and behold, Fritz’s wife caught Tommy. She was very disappointed that Tommy had tried to steal the candy. It was only a 5 cent candy bar but he didn’t have the money to pay for it. When he got caught, he felt really bad and it bothered him for days. Rose didn’t tell Tommy’s mother or anyone. She just let him know her disappointment. It was a shameful moment in Tommy’s life, never to be forgotten or repeated.
Christmas was a special time for the family but it seemed that it was always Christmas Eve before they were able to get a Christmas tree. They could never really afford to pay full price for a tree so they waited until the trees were either given away or sold for pennies on the dollar before they could get one home to decorate. Somehow they managed to get a few lights and a few decorations to throw on the tree.
There were never many gifts. There were too many children. Tommy always felt that the younger kids deserved to have the toys. Most of those toys came from the Goodwill or Salvation Army. They were used but, nevertheless, were appreciated.
Then one day his dad was hospitalized with kidney failure. Kidney failure was a big thing in those days. There wasn’t dialysis as we know it today. So after months of suffering, Tommy’s father passed away. Then things changed even more. His mother had to find employment and that is when Tommy knew he had to fend for himself even more.
By the following Christmas, Tommy began to question God’s purpose for his family. Why did they have to be so poor when others were not? Why did his father have to die and leave all these children behind? Why couldn’t they have Christmas gifts like all the other children did? Why would he have to always wear clothes handed down to him, ones that the white children had no more use for? Why used toys?. Why, why, why?
That Christmas night Tommy went to sleep questioning God. He didn’t really know who God was but he believed in him anyway. He began to question why Santa didn’t look more like him. Why was everything about Christmas so white? It just doesn’t seem real anymore. And on this particular Christmas, they couldn’t even afford the cheapest tree. After all, why celebrate being poor. Since there wasn’t a tree, it was not likely that there would be gifts when he woke up in the morning anyway.
Then, while he was dreaming, he heard a voice that seemed to come from within his soul. The voice kept saying soul, soul, soul until he eventually hears these four words, “The Soul of Santa”. Tommy opened his eyes and there, before him, sat The Soul of Santa. He was a colored Santa, not white, dressed with a derby, a not so red suit and his eyes looked as if they were on fire. The fire looked to be deep inside of him. When Tommy looked into the eyes of The Soul of Santa, he became captivated and he felt his heart race to his throat. There was a connection, a magical connection.
Then Tommy asked, who are you and that’s when he heard him say, I am The Soul of Santa and I have come to show you the meaning of Christmas.
Then Tommy had fear, but it only lasted for seconds. The Soul of Santa reminded him of his father. Then he began to feel comfort all around him. He felt secure. He just couldn’t explain why he felt that way. He felt comfort like he had never felt before. He knew he was safe. Now it was time to ask all the questions that he was asking of God because The Soul of Santa felt like a messenger from God himself:
Why are you not like Santa Claus he asked?
TSOS answered, because Santa and I are one.
Tommy became puzzled. How can that be Soul of Santa, he asked? You are black and Santa is white.
TSOS replied; Santa and I have the same father.
Who is that asked Tommy?
Why it’s God, the same father that you have Tommy.
Then Tommy became really confused. How can that be, Soul of Santa? My father died. Are you him, Tommy asked? Are you my father? Did you come back for me?
The Soul of Santa replied; I am who you want me to be son. Everyone has a soul. Everyone was given a choice to do what they want with their soul. God the father of us all is waiting for all of us to decide what we will do with our lives. Will we waste it on sinful things? Will we choose to wait until we are older to make a decision about it, or we will decide early in our lives to worship God in the right way and help others understand what it means to serve God and to love him with all your heart?
Tommy began to understand what TSOS was saying so he decided to test him.
TSOS, are you here to give me gifts? If I choose to follow God will he help my family have food, a Christmas tree, gifts and most of all, will he keep my mother safe?
TSOS took a deep breath and replied; you can have everything your heart desires if you follow Him. God is available to everyone, young old, big and small, white and black, it doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone has a right to choose to follow Him.
Then Tommy stands up and says, is God even in Africa?
TSOS replies, He is everywhere.
Where does he live?
TSOS replies; he lives within your heart. Remember when you stole the candy bar and something in your heart told you it was wrong to do?
Yeeeeesss said Tommy in a frightful voice.
Well Tommy, said TSOS, that’s where he resides for everyone who chooses him. He will guide you all of your life.
Then Tommy began to look around and all of a sudden he could see TSOS in his house and in the house of everyone he had seen that day, white and black. All the kids were happy and all of them embraced TSOS.
Tommy began to weep, tears of joys. He began to have chills and became very excited about his revelation. That’s when he closed his eyes and reached to hug TSOS.
Then, all of a sudden, there was a thump. Tommy had fallen out of bed. That’s when he woke up. He looked all around for TSOS and then he realized he had been dreaming all the time.
Tommy jumped up and ran to his mother’s room dragging his little brother by the hand. He wanted to share his TSOS experience with everyone, especially his mother. After all, she wasn’t even home when he fell asleep.
His mom got up and said Tommy, what’s the matter? Why are you so excited?
I want to tell you about The Soul of Santa, he said.
Who is The Soul of Santa, she said?
He’s God. He lives within all of us.
Then his mother said to him, we’d better go downstairs and talk about The Soul of Santa. I want to hear all about him.
As they approached the living room, Tommy let out a big yell. The Soul of Santa was here. He was here, he was here!!!!
All of a sudden he saw a big Christmas tree with lots of gifts, more than Tommy had ever seen before. TSOS must have been real. How else would all of these things happen overnight; the tree, the gifts, the decorations.
At that moment, Tommy got that same chill that he experienced in his dream with TSOS. It was too real to have been a dream. The Soul of Santa lives. He lives within us all said Tommy. He lives within my heart. He is every color he needs to be. For me, he is black. It’s not his color that’s important, it’s what and who he represents. That’s what he means to me.
Thus the story of The Soul of Santa was born. Tommy learned a valuable lesson, it’s not what you are on the outside that counts, it’s who you are on the inside that matters most. The Soul of Santa symbolizes the privilege each and every one of us has to celebrate Christmas in a manner that reflects our heritage and our belief in the spirit of the holiday known as Christmas and all that it represents.