This is the last installment relating to the Christmas writings of Ruth Purser. It is a shame that Miss Ruth did not write more about the subject of this season. However, she did write much more which relates to the history of Dayton and Rhea County. According to her niece, Sue Boyd Travis, Miss Ruth had many stories referring to her life in Dayton, including the business of being a florist. Hopefully, I will be able to connect with her writings and share these with those of you who knew and loved her. The following is the last of Ruth Purser’s Christmas thoughts which is written in her handwriting on tablet paper.

“Christmas is the wonder of a child at the first snowflake-the tenderness of the mother and baby-the strength of the father reading the Christmas Story-and the imagination that makes children hear the prancing of reindeer hoofs on the housetop-it is the hush of twilight, the magic of midnight and the promise of dawn. Christmas is the shining hope of peace that can unite the world with the faith that has endured since Christmas began.

Christmas is the remembrance of the Child of Bethlehem giving us the very essence of Christmas-the music of bells-the twinkling of tree ornaments-the singing of carolers-the gifts of love and appreciation-Christmas is love. Christmas is not the things you do at Christmastime, but the Christmas things you do all year.

Christmas is a reason. Last year when I made my first legend wreath, I sent a hand written copy to be typed for me-with the words, Christmas is a reason-the girl was so sure I had made a mistake in the writing-she called to ask because I went on to say that Christmas is a season celebrated in all Christian countries-the way it is celebrated depends on where you are-we in this country are the beneficiaries of Christmas customs and traditions from every part of the world-but nowhere else is Christmas observed with a greater enthusiasm-from the spectacular point of view the U.S. leads the world in Christmas showmanship and this brings us to the part that today is not the day of the simple life-it is an easy sophistication, but traditions die hard and Christmas will endure with the remembrance of the Child of Bethlehem. The Spirit of Christmas is Peace. The joy of Christmas is Hope and the heart of Christmas is Love.

So much of Christmas depends on you. The year has reached its climax and the grand finale is Christmas-and Christmas is you-YOU make it what it should be and what it will be.

Christmas is both ritual and merry-making-it has a spectacular point of view, especially in regards to outdoor illumination and decorations. To make Christmas, you take a pinch of tradition, a dash of culture, a lot of ingenuity, with “a-this” and “a-that”, with good will, loving hearts filled with Joy.”

Another item of interest with Miss Ruth’s Christmas writings was a copy of “The Origin of Santa Claus” taken from Jack and Jill Magazine. This writing was by Peggie Geiszel, and was published in the December, 1971 magazine. Many of you will remember the Jack and Jill Magazine, and the information it contained.

This article states that the history of Santa goes back to around A.D. 300, when a young bishop in the town of Myra, in Asia Minor, became famous for his kindness. After the bishop’s death he was called “Saint Nicholas.” That young bishop was supposed to have climbed one night onto a rooftop and dropped a gift down a chimney; the gift fell into a stocking which had been hung there to dry. He often left money when people were asleep, and stories of the kindly bishop were popular with children in many lands. By the time America separated from England, most children here were hanging up stockings on Christmas Eve.

In 1822, Clement Moore wrote for his children a Christmas poem which he called “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.” Mr. Moore described St. Nick as round, rosy, merry, with twinkling eyes and a hearty laugh. In different lands Santa may be called Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, Pere Noel, or Father Christmas; but he is still the kind, selfless representative of joy and goodwill among men.

From the legends Miss Ruth wrote about, we can get a good idea about how Christmas traditions have evolved and been handed down through the years. That should make us even more anxious to learn from the past in order to understand the present and to prepare for the future. Have a Happy New Year!

Pat Guffey can be reached at pat459@charter.net