CBN.com Any child or adult can tell you that he drives a sleigh with eight reindeer, lives at the North Pole, and leaves presents under the tree on Christmas day. But what is it about Santa that touches the child in all of us?
"One word," says Bob Propst, "love." As he explains, "They go back to their childhood. A lot of people go back to childhood and wish things were the way when they were young."
Since 1994, folks here in Gastonia, North Carolina, have known Bob Propst and his wife, Marilyn, as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Their home is always decorated for Christmas. Every year they get thousands of letters addressed to the North Pole from as far as China. Believe it or not, they answer each one personally. But dont worry, they dont make promises Mom or Dad cant keep.
"We just tell the children that the toy shop is working hard to fill their Christmas wishes, all their dreams, and everything is going according to schedule and well see them Christmas Eve," says Bob.
Being Santa and Mrs. Claus is a lot of work, but it has its rewards.
"I do it out of pure love and to receive love from children and give that love back to children and to see their faces," Bob says. "To see a mom and dad standing over there, their child on my lap, and see tears come from their eyes, its awesome."
But the couple sees their role as having a bigger purpose.
"Children ask me, many times they say, 'Are you the real Santa?' Most of the time Christ would answer a question with a question, so I ask them, 'Do you know how to tell the real Santa?' They say, 'How?' I say, 'Just ask him if he loves Jesus and youll see in his face if hes real.'"
Thats right. Santa believes in Jesus and always has. Bob was a gospel singer for 36 years before muscular dystrophy forced him to go on disability. So becoming Santa just gave him and his wife a different way of sharing the true meaning of Christmas.
"I think the greatest joy is telling children a little bit about what Christmas is really for," says Marilyn. "I think that it does make a difference when they hear Santa talking about Jesus' birthday."
They take every opportunity to talk about their faith in Jesus, and at the end of every letter, the message is clear: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Its a big responsibility being Santa, and some days are harder than others.
"I have a lot of children come, and the first thing they say is they dont want toys. ' Just bring me a daddy or bring me a mommy.' Thats hard," says Bob. "I tell them, 'Santa cant bring you a mommy, but I know someone who can. His name is Jesus. Well ask Him.'"
Santa seems to have an effect on everyone, no matter who they are.
Says Bob, "People dont smile nowadays anymore. Everywhere we go people smile. I dont care if its the grocery store or the mall. If Im sitting in the car, they come up and want to talk to Santa. It brings smiles to their faces. Some of the toughest looking men and toughest looking ladies, when they see Santa, they smile."
But what is it about Santa that brings such a warm response? Is it the promise of presents under the tree? Santa believes theres much more to it than that.
Santa Claus carries a certain spirit about him. That brings a lot of joy and happiness, excitement, all those things similar to Christ. Thats what it's all about.
So it doesnt matter whether youre 3 or 93, theres a part of Santa you can still believe in--the part that carries the spirit of love, hope, and peace that can only come from Jesus Christ. All it takes is the faith of a child.
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