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Location: Boston, MA, United States

I am a clergyperson and was ordained in 1985 by the National Alliance of Pantheists. I received recognition through Our Lady and Lord of the Trinicrian Rose. I volunteer as a member of the Interfaith Clergy Council of the Boston Living Center. I live with my partner and spouse in a timy apartment in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. I like writing poetry as well an prose. I have been a Witch since 1971. I was born in Binghamton, NY and lived there until 1984 when I moved to Maine.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Volunteering: A Different Way of Giving

Nearly a week ago, I and my partner, Ursus, were privilaged enough to volunteer in a very special event at the Boston Living Center, a place created as a place of refuge, education, and resources for those with HIV or AIDS. Ursus and I have done this before and have received so much from the doing of this that we did it for the second year in a row. What did we do? Ursus and I were Santa Claus and Mr. Elf, respectively, for the children of the membership.
For us it is not just dressing up and playing Santa Claus and an elf but was a genuine effort to channel the message of Love and acceptance of these children, many of whom might expect little on Christmas morning because of the facts of life facing their parents or even themselves. Santa Claus is a real person to us, not a story book, or poetic character. His nature is magickal and quite real, as real as the love that eminates from him.
It was such a joy to watch the faces of the younger children who have not lost the magic feeling of the season. Their eyes light up when the see Santa. And what of Ursus, he was Santa Claus, and had a special feeling that was only because he let that light, that spirit into him. He also remembers visiting Santa Claus in his childhood. He remembers, and in remembering greeted each child on their level. For the littlest, Santa can be frightening. This big man in a funny red suit with white fur and a funny red fur edged hat, something that is not a usual occurence for that age, and can be frightening. But a little older and they run to him with big smiles and high hopes. In some cases, they are shy. I remember one little boy that wouldn't come over to Santa, so Santa came to him. That was magick.
There even were big kids that you knew that Santa was something that was not real any more to them, but Santa would know that homeboy handshake and the kid would look at him and have a look like 'how did this guy know all about that, "Cool, yah know."' Ursus admits at that moment he knew just the right thing to do because Santa was really there. And it was at those moments that the staff working to give each child a present, would look at Ursus with a look like, "What? How did he do that? How did he know just the right thing to do." Ursus just would exclaim, "Because I am Santa Claus." He never talked down to them.
Now admittedly, Ursus looks the part. He has a belly that needs know padding and has a bushy greying beard, and wears his hair long and braided. But he has a face that is open and friendly and a genial disposition even when he's not feeling well. He often has people open up to him when they won't oppent up to anyone else. So he's half way there already. So looks wise he fits the part.
I, meanwhile, sat at his side with The Book. You know that book. The one that lists "who are naughty and who are good". That's my magick. I was the one that helped to remind Santa who was naughty and who was good. Sometimes they would look at me when they heard what the Book was and have the look like 'Uht oh! I'm in trouble now.' But Santa was forgiving too. "Well, we all have times we fight with our sisters, don't we, but we really don't mean it." He would say and that boy would look at him, and shake his head, and know that he shouldn't, but that he had the forgiveness and understanding of someone that was outside his family, that was a source of pleasure, something that they might not know because of the health of their parent or parents.
I often would watch the parents as they watched their children sitting on Santa's lap, and could see that magick was there too. And some times I could see that that package that Mrs. Claus or one of the Helper Elves would give them might be the only one they would get. At times I would see tears too, expressing emotion of gratitude that there was somelone that could be so nice to their child.
Now I am not trying to convince you that read this that Santa really exists, that's for your own heart to know. What I am trying to portray is the feeling of joy and the honor that we felt in volunteering and using our special talents, to bring joy to someone else. We got the biggest gift of all in just doing that.


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