Christmas has already arrived in my cupboard! It is a household tradition that sometime shortly after Thanksgiving, the regular coffee mugs and many of the glasses get replaced by the “Christmas drink ware.”  It is always a small delight to open the cabinet door and be greeted by a bright, if cluttered, assortment of holiday mugs and glasses.

There are Santa mugs, snowmen (sorry, no snowwomen), decorated trees, and even an elf or two. We have a drinking glass set of the 11 days of Christmas (there use to be 12 days, but somebody dropped the Piper’s Piping – moment of silence please).

Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup is an old world style mug with a different sort of “Santa” depicted. Here in America, we have come to conceptualize Santa as a caricature of a short man as depicted in the old Coke commercials or the clay-mation special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  The Santa staring at me this morning is more of the old world variety. I like that.  He is depicted here as a taller, thinner man. His clothing is less cartoonish and more realistic. My mind reminds me that Santa is a larger phenomenon that what we do in 2011 in the United States. It reminds me that the gift giving, myths and commercialism really started as something else.

I can allow my imagination to let go back in time, following an imaginary path back to a real man, a kind, generous, self sacrificing man who lived – giving to the less fortunate because of the unfathomable generosity of his Christ. I can remember that there was once a real connection between the Christ of Christmas and Saint Nicholas. Then my fantasies expand and I follow the greatness of God’s love into other places and faiths, many nations and stories, countless traditions and beliefs as humanity struggles to unite around the truths of caring, self-sacrifice, peace, justice, kindness and a belief that children deserve more love and security than we have historically given them… my mind wanders and my heart both aches for more and fill with abundance of gratitude  that at least for the next few days we will once again gather around decorated trees, tinseled presents and faith filled hymns and remember – if only in a limited way – that God has come to us and we are better for it.