Christmas means different things to different people. For some it may mean holidays and fun, for others the worst of the winter woes with no roof above their heads. It may means a time to be with your family or long hours spent at work to enable other families to enjoy their time together.
But there is one factor that unites us together on Christmas - Santa Claus.
Whether we believe that he exists or not, it is difficult to remain untouched by the presence of the jolly big man with a sack full of gifts.
Saint Nicholas, or the children's favourite Santa Claus, is not just a bearer of gifts. He is not just the potbellied man in a red suit giving sweet treats to kids in the local mall. He is the embodiment of the spirit of Christmas. He is a reaffirmation of our faith in the inherent goodness of mankind.
We all know Santa Claus doesn't exist. Even most of the children know this. Still the legend continues because it is like a ray of sunshine that pierces the gloom of reality and keeps our hopes alive. He nurtures the child in us who wants to believe the fairy tale because it is too beautiful to let go.
Christmas binds us to tradition, it makes us a part of the large motley group that comes together with a spirit of giving rather than taking. It gives us a feeling of belonging, of continuity of existence, of acceptance of the present and a hope for the future.
The Christmas Tree that stands undeterred even in the freezing winter is a reminder of perseverance in the face of adversity. Its gay decorations are a beacon of warmth and hospitality and the presents under it bring out in us the need of sharing with others - of giving material support to those less fortunate, love to our friends and forgiveness to our foes.
Gioan Baotixita Phạm Thành Khiêm