I remember a saying that was popular several years ago; "What would Jesus Do?" As a Christian, I would often ask myself that question when I was trying to make an important decision, and I even had some elastic bracelets with those words on them that I would wear from time to time. The problem was that I often knew in my heart what the answer to the question was, and sometimes found it hard to follow His example.
Right after the tragedy that occurred in the United States on 9/11, a dear friend of mine, artist Ralph J. McDonald created this painting of me. The painting, titled "The Gift of Freedom," contained several images relating to America and the tragic event, along with a New York Fire Department truck under the tree and The Statue of Liberty shadowed behind Santa. I took my role as an American and as Santa very serious after this event and wondered how I could be a vehicle for healing and change in our society.
Right after the painting was released, I found a plaque at Hobby Lobby called "The ABC's of Life" which I bought and hung beneath the painting in my "North Pole" office. A few days ago, after enduring several months of quarantine with everyone else fearful of the pandemic that we are all facing and all of the unrest our nation is enduring, the painting and plaque took on a new meaning for me. As I read the words on the plaque, they spoke to me of "What Would Santa Do?"
Here are "The ABC's of Life" with Santa's comments added.
A. Accept Differences Santa knows that we all are different, but he loves everyone. What a boring world this would be if we were all the same! God didn't make us that way!
B. Be Kind Life is too short not to treat everyone with kindness, respect and joy.
C. Count Your Blessings We don't have to look far to realize how blessed we really are. We should each take time every day to thank God for the blessings He has given us.
D. Dream Any one who knows me well, knows I am a dreamer. That is what Santa should be! To me, I try to treat each day I am blessed to be alive like Christmas.
E. Express Thanks Everyone appreciates a sincere "Thank You." Even Santa!
F. Forgive I know it is hard sometimes, but for our own health and well being, we should be quick to forgive people who we have issues with.
G. Give Freely Santa should be an expert at that! Give of your time, your talents and your resources.
H. Harm No One To Santa, this applies to all creatures, not just human.
I. Imagine More I love this one! Sometimes "Mrs. Claus" says "I imagine too much!" I love to think about how I want things to be...even if they are not.
J. Jettison Anger Life is too short to spend it being angry.
K. Keep Confidences Otherwise, how could Santa keep up with what you want for Christmas!
L. Love Truly I am blessed to have loved someone truly for over half of a century. Santa loves everyone!
M. Master Something Find something you love to do and then work at being the best at it that you possibly can be. Never stop trying to improve.
N. Nurture Hope That's what this world needs more now than anything else. Hope!
O. Open Your Mind Even as old as Santa is, I always try to keep my mind open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. I'm even learning to blog!
P. Pack Lightly Okay! I have to admit I am challenged by this one! Santa has too much stuff to keep up with. But I'm working on it!
Q. Quell Rumors Our concentration should focus on "keeping our own nose clean" as my mother used to say. We don't have time to spread rumors about anyone.
R. Reciprocate We should always return good for good and let people know we appreciate them.
S. Seek Wisdom Never stop learning. Always try to learn something new every day.
T. Touch Hearts Almost everyone loves Santa. He has a special way of touching the hearts of young and old.
U. Understand Try to understand the view point of others. Try to "put yourself in their shoes."
V. Value Truth I learned this as a lifelong Rotarian by applying the Four Way Test. "Is it the Truth>"
W. Win Graciously No one likes to lose, and one who brags about winning isn't very popular. Remember, winners actually lose more often than they win.
X. Xeriscape This was my lesson for the day. "Xeriscape": A style of landscape design requiring little or no irrigation or other maintenance. Easy at the North Pole!
Y. Yearn for Peace May God grant us this goal which may be the most important of all for our world.
Z. Zealously Support a Worthy Cause You will find the most fulfillment through meeting the needs of others.
There you have it. Sorry this was a long post, but I hope these words will resonate with you like they did me.
Blessings, Santa Cliff