The year had been long. His task was singular, and required much focus. During his vacation, people would ask him “What do you do the rest of the year?” He sighed at the question, because there was much to be done, and not easily explained. He normally lapsed in to a droning half-hearted explanation, only to be interrupted out of their boredom, which is what he hoped for. Nicholas sat at his desk, reading. It was the same book of Advent preparations that he had read since he was a young man, passed down to him by his Father. It was worn, tattered, and filled with notes and small prayers. The book should have turned to dust centuries ago, but has been preserved. That bit of magic was part of the gift.
Nicholas leaned back in his chair and took a draw from his pipe. He thought back over the millennia, remembering the ways that humanity ebbs and flows in to good and evil, coming up with new and creative ways to seize power and make themselves in to little Gods. He also thought of the Saints, those recognized by the Church, or simply recognized by the poor and needy they helped. To the least of these, he thought.
Nicholas walked over to his work table, and looked at the hand carved animals and people that dotted the top. He had picked up carpentry early on, when this was a new job. A nod to his master, and something to busy the hands and mind. Years ago, he had made many of the gifts by hand, but new technology had jaded the recipients to such old-fashioned handiwork. He believed the desire for simpler gifts may still return, that time and skill applied over time would replace gifts bought at the last minute.
These days, many people had grown dull to wonders of the spirit, as other wonders gained popularity. People could speak across the world, fly to the heavens, and access almost anything they desired. But the world that had been created by man was all in front of them, and if it could not be touched or quantified, would not be believed. And some things in life must be believed purely out of the soul and knowledge of what is good.
When Nicholas had been an old man, Jesus visited him in the form of a poor man. Nicholas was kind to him, allowing food and shelter, as the scriptures instructed. As they were eating breakfast the next morning, the man asked what all the small gifts around the house were for.
“The village children” Nicholas replied, “they do not have much, and a small gift brings them great joy”.
The man smiled, and said “Nicholas, how would you like to do that for all children, yea, even all people?”
Nicholas chuckled, “That would be very nice, but in my age, even this small village is enough for me.” He turned back to the tea kettle, and poured himself another cup. He turned and began to pour his guest another cup, but a shimmer of light caught his eye, and he looked up. The man had been transformed, and was now ablaze in light, too beautiful to look at for very long. “Who are you? Lord?”
The man spoke, “You are right to call me Lord, for I am Jesus. I want to make you a giver of gifts to all people who have goodness in their hearts. Your gifts will remind all people of the gift of salvation, the goodness of life, and the promise heaven to come.”
Nicholas responded, “But Lord, I am old, and have no way to reach all people. What about time? Delivering gifts to all the people in world cannot possibly be done!”
“O ye of little faith. I will make your heart strong and your hands skilled. My time is not like the time of man. You will find it all possible through me.”
“I am your servant Lord, let your will be done”
As he bowed his head and dropped to his knees, Nicholas looked down at the cups. The Lord’s was empty. His was overflowing.
So the work began, and Nicholas moved to the mountains. There the Lord made his workshop invisible to human eyes, and angels assisted his work. Each day was simply a precursor to the Advent season, to those holy days where would read from the book. Countless gifts were made, but they were not all gifts that could be wrapped and placed under a tree. Nicholas helped facilitate the spark of goodness in people, and travelled the globe with the Lord’s Angels, agents of his change in people’s lives. It may be a meal to the hungry, a jacket for cold, or shelter to a family. Nicholas did not busy himself with graphic chips, processors, and batteries. There was work to be done in the heart.
The belief of people in something bigger and more important than one’s self brought joy to Nicholas. He watched as people put aside their differences and loved, and wept when humanity went to war over power, pride, and possessions. He had made his life’s work the joy of others and the goodness of his Lord, and would continue to do so until his time had come.
Of course, Nicholas’ busiest time of the year was Christmas, when people’s hearts were further opened to merriment, love, and forgiveness. As time had progressed, the 25th day of the December became THE DAY, and that was fine. Any day would do, and he prayed that eventually humanity would see each day they drew breath as an opportunity to give of themselves.
So Christmas Eve and Day, full of anticipation followed by unbridled joy, became the most fulfilling. Nicholas flew through the sky, born up by the wings of Angels, the hope of thousands of years and millions of souls rang through him, and he lifted his voice to the sky, crying out with all the vigor and passion he had.
“HO HO HO! MERRY CHRISTMAS! PEACE ON EARTH, AND GOODWILL TO MEN!