This time of year, I find something special hitting bookshelves across town – holiday-themed children’s books. Filled with re-imagined familiar stories and bright illustrations, the time between Halloween and Christmas is a book-lover’s dream. Stacks of Christmas children’s books are one of my favorite things about this time of year. One of the best holiday books I have encountered was Auntie Claus, the story of Sophie Kringle, a young girl in Manhattan trying to figure out her eccentric aunt.
From the flamboyant decorations, to perpetual diet of cookies, to the annual “business trip” she always takes between Halloween and Valentine’s Day, Auntie Claus never fails to confound and intrigue young Sophie. A whole new world is opened up the day Sophie decides to stowaway on this trip and discovers who her aunt really is. Suddenly it becomes clear how Santa achieves all of his holiday magic – with the help of his eccentric New Yorker sister, Auntie Claus. Her organizational skills are unrivaled, and her creativity is admired by all the elves in the North Pole. But the real thing that makes Auntie Claus the unsung hero is her generosity.
“It is far better to give than to receive darling” she chants to Sophie through the book. As they navigate their adventure behind-the-scenes of the North Pole, little Sophie begins to see that her aunt is much more than meets the eye.
Behind-the-scenes heroes often go unsung this season. Any holiday magic happening around our own homes is often the doing of people out of the spotlight. To begin to think about the behind-the-scenes holiday magic that fills St. Paul this time of year is dazzling. Every day I am struck at how many people live and move and have their being serving around this place. If I were to ever stowaway on any one of their “business trips,” like Sophie, I have no doubt that I would be standing wide-eyed at all they do to work for generosity, justice. and peace.
Earlier this week, there was a small gathering of the folks who volunteer in the office around St. Paul. The behind-the-scenes jobs of stocking envelopes, folding bulletins and sharpening pencils are essential to having any type of holiday magic around this place. I am so grateful for all the “Auntie Claus” people who have mastered the art of living generously. This season, as we move towards Christmas, remember those who are behind the scenes. I know I am grateful for the all the “Aunties” in my life.
–Amy Diller, pastor in residency