‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

by Bri Kilroy

We’ve waited 365 days for Santa Claus to make his legendary trip around the world, always making a point to hang around Grand Rapids to get a caffeinated hot chocolate pick-me-up from Ferris Coffee & Nut and check out our community Christmas trees at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) and Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum.

Claus, famously identified by his avant garde method of transportation, has been making this annual trip for generations and has held his benevolent reputation for even longer. His tradition of giving gifts to impoverished children dates as far back as A.D. 250, when he was living as a modest monk with a surprisingly wealthy inheritance from his parents.

“I started doing it to purge some of my things,” Claus explained. “The monk life doesn’t give you the capacity to carry a lot of extras with you and I knew my possessions were things that could ignite a child’s day and smile. [The children] were very happy that first year.”

The tradition took place in the beginning of the month with signature gifts of fruits and nuts placed inside a child’s shoes for a festive surprise the following morning. As Claus’ story became bigger and well known–“Along with my stomach!” he laughed. The ritual moved to December 24, where he would reserve the entire night into Christmas morning to deliver presents to homes internationally.

“It’s one jingle bell of night,” Claus said. “I get to soar through the skies and see some of the best sights. I especially admire the different decorations communities put up for the season. I think I may enjoy that more than the cookies. Maybe.”

Claus gages that his flight over Grand Rapids will happen between 7 p.m. and midnight, careful not to give an exact time in order to maintain the mystery of his presence. “The spirit of giving is always present,” he said. “I’m honored by how many people reflect this tradition when I can’t physically be there. I believe that’s what makes Christmas Day a success.”

This Christmas Eve, hope for a clear sky and few clouds so you may catch a glimpse of Mr. Claus as he flies above Grand Rapids. Keep your ears open for his jolly laugh and your heart open for his contagious spirit. Don’t miss our Grand Rapids community Tree Lighting Ceremony, December 2 at Rosa Parks Circle, 5-7 p.m. where we celebrate the opening of Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink (stay updated with their Facebook page) and the lighting of GRAM’s Christmas tree that illuminates Monroe Center with colorful lights and is bound to catch Santa’s eye.

Look to that sky for a little glimpse of magic, Grand Rapids. Happy holidays!

What: Santa Claus comes to town
Where: The skies above Grand Rapids
When: December 24-December 25
Why: To deliver gifts to all the good little girls and boys

Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.



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