December Book Review : The Autobiography of Santa Claus

Under the Oaks : The Autobiography of Santa Claus Book Review

This month I’ve been reading The Autobiography of Santa Claus as told by Jeff Guinn. I don’t remember how I originally heard about this book, but the reviews were so wonderful that a couple of years ago I bought a copy for each family in my extended family. The book has 24 chapters and is meant to be read starting on the first night of December all the way through Christmas Eve. It is primarily an adult read, but could be read to kids maybe 7 years and older and I say that not because there are any topics of faux pas nature, but because I think anyone younger might need the recap versus the reading.

A couple of years ago Jeff Guinn, a journalist, received a call from Mr. Clause (unknowingly) regarding a piece Guinn had done about unknown facts in regards to the Christmas holiday. It appears the man wanted to clear up some facts and Guinn was tasked with obtaining the truth from his new friend. In his autobiography Nicholas, aka Santa Claus, starts his tale at the very beginning in 280 A.D.  in Lycia (present day region of Turkey, across from Israel and Egypt). Nicholas’ parents passed at a young age and left a hefty inheritance to him. Having been raised with a strong Christian background, Nicholas wanted to do more for his neighbors that had little. So he devised a plan to sneak into their homes at night and leave them bits of money, foods, or anything they might be in need of. The reason for the sneaking? He knew if he gave to them straight away they would be too prideful to accept his generosity.

Guinn goes on in the tale of Nicholas in describing how he became a bishop (continuing to give back), eventually stopped aging at the age of 63, and met his main helper Felix. Felix and Nicholas traveled on for over a hundred years giving back and earning money by binding bibles in beautiful wooden carved tablets (that Felix could carve quickly over night … which is probably where he learned to make toys for children so quickly later on). The last chapter I read Nicholas met his wife Layla. Layla would also sneak into family’s homes and leave gifts for the needy; she had been inspired by the Bishop Nicholas.

Nicholas describes to Guinn the difference between magic and illusion. Saying that some of the tales that have been told about him are pure magic (the fact that he stopped aging at 63 and that he could get from place to place very quickly by foot), but others are pure illusion. He claims that some stories were simply made up in order to describe the magic behind the man.

“Not all magic is fireworks and fanfare. Sometimes magic is quiet and sneaks up on you. An illusion is what needs all the bells and whistles to make itself appear grander than it really is, which is just a trick that can be explained.”

I’m still in the process of reading about Santa Claus and will continue to do so up through to Christmas Eve. It is filled with such lovely tales with genuine historic character. Often times we hear complaints about how people have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. I think this is a fantastic read for the family (and for self) to remember what that true meaning is. It is both remembering and honoring the sacrifice, as well as giving back to those in true need, combined with a little magic and illusion.

Do you have a favorite holiday read? xoxo ‘n lols, crystal

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