Today, I’d like to talk about Christmas and what the season for giving means to me.
Christmas is my favorite time at the Governor’s Mansion and at the State Capitol. I love the expressions of the hundreds of visitors when they see how the First Lady and all of her volunteers have decked the halls with trees and garland and lights.
I love the look on the faces of children when they see the amazing Santa displays around the halls of the mansion.
That’s what this season is about. The joy we can provide to others is what makes us all feel a little warmer inside.
This year, inside the mansion, we have eight large painting displays of Santas from around the world as you walk down the Grand Hall Staircase.
Almost everybody in the world knows Santa. Every era and country has its own version of the same icon. The common theme of all the Santas is the joy they bring, which is a comfort to kids no matter how old they are.
Santa across the world is represented by different colors, animals and symbols, but they all point to the same jolly fellow who represents the feeling of Christmas.
The origins of Santa Claus can be traced back to the life of a Christian bishop named Saint Nicholas. He was born to wealthy parents in 270 A.D. in what is now modern-day Turkey. He lost his parents at a young age and reportedly used his inheritance to give gifts to children and to help the sick and the poor.
His reputation grew by being extremely generous and a wonderworker. It was said he rescued three impoverished sisters from servitude by dropping a bag of gold coins through the window of their house each night for three nights so their father could pay the dowries for them to marry. The father caught Saint Nicholas on the third night and thanked him for his kindness. History also claims he saved three men who were falsely imprisoned and faced certain death.
Over the course of many years, Saint Nicholas became known as the protector of children and a story of legend told by thousands. His story is what has evolved into the loving, jolly Santa Claus we know today that carries toys on his back and a Coca-Cola in his hand. The image of the man with a big white beard and a bright red suit brings a bit of warmth and happiness during the Christmas season.
That feeling, the feeling of giving, can mean many different things depending on who you ask. We all give in different ways, but the purpose behind wanting to give is to provide someone with the joy of a gift while not hoping for anything in return.
Gifts don’t need to be of material value. It can be time spent with loved ones or cooking a meal for a family in need.
Christmas is a time where many families like ours celebrate the birth of Jesus and the sacrifice he gave to us. We celebrate the values that he lived out each and every day he lived on this Earth. Treating one another with love and compassion is the spirit that binds us together and represents what Christmas is really about, the love shared from person to person.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you, the people of Arkansas.