The story of the Dowerless Daughters adapted by Santa Mike RVA.
Many, many years ago a father lived with his three daughters. Their mother had died giving birth to the youngest daughter. Although the father worked very hard, they were still quite poor. He knew that it would be best for all three daughters to marry. But that required a dowry, and he had few possessions and even less money.
One evening at dinner as they ate their soup and hard bread, the father said to his daughter’s,
“I am sorry I cannot find for you husbands, but I have no dowry to offer.”
The daughters were sad, but they loved their father.
“We will be happy to stay here with you, Father.”
And so, they did, taking care of the house, feeding the chickens, milking the cow. But one day as they were walking from town where they had traded eggs for bread, they talked about how they wished their life were different.
“If only father were a wealthy man, we would all have husbands.”
The oldest daughter said, “Alas, I am soon to be an old maid.”
A man going to town to sell his vegetables overheard their conversation. After he had sold his crop, he visited the priest.
“Father Nicholas, it is a sad story. I wish that there was something to be done to help these daughters. They love their father so.”
Father Nicholas listened to the story. When the man was gone, he thought to himself,
“I am wealthy with more than I will ever need. I will make a way for the oldest daughter to be married.”
That evening he quietly walked to the house where the father lived with the three daughters. As they were sleeping Father Nicholas quietly opened the window and left a bad of gold.
In the morning, the father found the gold.
“It is a gift from God.”
And so, he was able to provide a dowry for the oldest daughter to be married.
The father told the other two daughters that it would be too much to expect another miracle, but a few months later, a second bag of gold appeared, and the second daughter was married.
Surely God would not perform another miracle the father thought, and yet he determined to keep watch in the night in case the mysterious visitor would return.
In the morning the youngest daughter would wake to find her father asleep in his chair. She would cover him with a blanket and kiss him on the forehead.
“I shall always be happy to stay here with you Father” she would whisper on her way to make his breakfast.
One night a few months later, while the daughter was still sleeping, the father woke to hear the sound of the window being raised. In flew a bag of gold. This time it landed in a stocking hung up to dry by the fireplace.
As the bag came through the window the father reached out to grab the hand of the giver. Then he brought a candle to the window.
“Father Nicholas! It was you all this while.”
“Yes, my son. But please tell no one of what you have learned. You owe me no thanks. Give your thanks to God for he is the one who has provided for you and your daughters. You must let keep this story in your heart and never tell who brought you the gifts.”
“I promise,” the father replied, “I will mention your name only in prayer as I give thanks to God.”
Perhaps the father kept his promise. Perhaps he did not.
At the beginning of 2020, no one could quite have predicted that we would be in the midst of a world-wide pandemic. While Santa has survived many things in his more than 1700 years, the challenges for keeping both children and Santa safe were evident, but not insurmountable.
Santa Mike made a decision early on to not appear as Santa in a mask. A personal choice that indeed canceled some opportunities. But where’s the Christmas magic when Santa’s face is coved. Many Santas made different choices. The choices that were right for them.
Still, Santa Mike was able to do online visits as well as a handful of personal, but socially distanced appearances.
Much was learned from this season. Many things that will carry over to new seasons, even when there’s not a pandemic.
From Santa Mike to all of you, I wish you peace and the blessings of a safe and healthy new year.
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim
Think children aren’t paying attention to everything around them when they’re going to see Santa?
Don’t be deceived. Children are very perceptive and you may find that a small side commment will stay with a child forever.
It was almost fifty years ago. The boy had gone with neighbors to a small town Christmas parade. After the parade, Santa was going to greet the children in the local fire hall.
There was a crowd at the door as people pushed forward to be the next in line.
The boy stood there. He might have been ten, or maybe eleven. Always a large child, he’d become used to the taunts of his school mates. But he didn’t expect it from adults.
Standing in line, trying not to be pushed out of the way, the boy waited his turn.
Then the man next to him, there with his own family of red-haired children looked at the boy and said,
“My God, son, you’re as big as Santa.”
The boy stepped out of line and never went to see Santa again.
Be careful of what you say. Especially in this year when things are a challenge because of COVID-19. Everyone is a little on edge, and children, while very adaptable, just might not understand everything that is going on.
A casual, but cruel, comment could last a lifetime.
Children will listen.