Do you know who loved surprises and telling stories, #Porcupine? Santa, and he travelled the world to give the gift of wonder. Here is a story about Santa, before he grew old and fat, and why we bring trees inside that you might not have heard before.
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Winters always were long and cold up in the north. Nights were frigid and back in the old days, families relied on their reserves and each other during the long months. Kids grew up greatly during this season and all did what they could to keep warm. Christmas was a festive time in town and customary traditions allowed the children of the village to spend time together while the adults prepared for the new calendar year, but trees and gifts weren’t always part of the celebrations.
It was a long time ago, when Santa was real and living, that a group of rebels lured the nights, allegedly coming down the chimney, went through locked doors and windows abducting the children of the community and neighbouring villages during their sleep. Children disappeared even as every household kept their fireplace burning until the morning and did their part ensuring their neighbours were doing the same to dissuade the hostile attacks.
The men, strong and kings of their domain, in anger and feeling entitled for having vengeance on their side, and vengeance being grand, retaliated but the opposition were stronger. Anticipating and better prepared, not as royalty but as a function, the rebels triumphed and ensured less men returned to their villages every time.
Mothers became widows and were forced to raise kids alone and protect them against the rebellions. Times were difficult and in the stories we tell, Santa is old and chubby but back then, he was feeling far from the jolly version he has been made popular for. A storyteller, he travelled the majority of the year, yet he retreated to his cabin in the north to hibernate during the winter months and saw the misery that was unfolding in the communities around him.
Santa grew worried, deeply so, for the fate of the children and concerned that the town folks weren’t being critical in their thinking but the villagers having never accomplished anything by Santa’s anecdotes, discouraged his canvassing and gathered in groups to seek their revenge while the men that stayed behind taunted and gambled for the wives of the ones that would surely not return. Even harassing the poor women that pleaded and urged their husbands to eradicate the situation.
Hate is blinding and the villagers couldn’t see any solution other than fight back but matters couldn’t continue this way. Having witnessed hatred himself, Santa wondered how he could be at the right place and at the right time despite being blinded too. Children aren’t blinded though, not yet anyways and could escape, but the few that did were found lost and frozen to death in the treacherous wilderness. Without knowing any better, wondering what he could do, motivated and witted, Santa started using branches of evergreen trees such as spruce and fir trees he found to build small shelters that he decorated with a red ribbon and hung dried fruits that the children could eat to sustain themselves, hoping they would be found. They were the gifts that he would look for in morning.
“Look for the red ribbon,” he said to the children in the village, “and listen for the birds as I will leave cranberries and roasted corn to attract them.” Nothing truly is reassuring but now they had hope as even their mothers, in their heart-wrenching agony, insisted they didn’t escape the rebels but waited on their fathers instead.
“Follow the Northern Star and wait for me there, and every day I will go from shelter to shelter, huts to huts, and bring you back home but until then, my dear friends, your entire survival will rest on you and the others, and you must prepare now before it’s too late.”
Santa may not have been fat but always was very gifted. Each morning, he stuffed the front of his coat with a blanket and brought cookies for himself and the children he found, before setting out for the day going from one shelter he built to the next. He replenished the desiccated fruits and replaced the garlents of roasted corn and cranberries the animals had eaten with new ones he had prepared the night before. Every day, he looked and never gave up, even in the coldest of days and brought every missing child he found back home, from where they came from, told and still portrayed as the chimney.
Once a year ever since, tradition is to cut and decorate a fir tree with ribbons and roast corn together in families, with cookies and hot chocolate to keep warm. Still to this day, on Christmas morning, gifts are hidden under the tree and we tell stories of Santa and the elves, hoping that we don’t blind our children as we grew to be.
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