Over the years, I’ve collected and embroidered a wide variety of Santa Claus figures and ornaments. As the Christmas season closes, Santa’s image as the spirit of giving fades. But this year the gift of a new one from my grandson inspired me to see Santa differently.
This Santa sits on a bench, dressed in a red striped workshirt, ornate suspenders supporting red plush trousers. Paint brush in hand, he has just finished making a rocking horse, ready to be placed in the bag full of other toys by his feet. This Santa Claus is a worker. And he is an immigrant.
Yes, Santa Claus is so embedded in American culture that we forget he came with other immigrants from many cultures and countries, each bringing a slightly different name, look, orientation and custom. And he brought with him a spirit of hope and joy, the challenge of good behavior, and the creative ability and willingness to work that has built America.
Would that all immigrants be as warmly accepted and valued.
Elizabeth A. Belden