GK Chersterton on Santa Claus

“The Other Stocking” by G.K. Chesterton

This is taken from the facebook page of the American Chesterton Society, and was originally published in a paper in London in 1903.

What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.

As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good–far from it.

And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still.

I have merely extended the idea.

Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.

Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now, I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea.

Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.

  • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com/ Kellie

    I love this. I read it a number of years ago and loved it then too. What is so funny about doing Santa in our home is that it is often hard for me to give my children a special gift and not get the credit! But by doing so, we are giving them a greater gift.

    The idea of fantasy and imagination teaching us about God is hard for a very practical adult like me. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis and Tolkien are so great at reminding me. Their writings always help me see the truth in a very unique and new way. And of course this style doesn’t work for everyone, and won’t reach certain kids as much as others, but I can already tell that certain children in my home are much more moved to understand truth through their imaginations.


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