Disclaimer: This excerpt and episode may be best to read/listen to without little ears nearby as some of Santa’s trade secrets are discussed.
In 1998, James E. Faust gave a talk in the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and said, “Let me share what someone once said about Santa Claus: First of all, he’s a joyous individual. People are attracted to joyous individuals as filings are attracted to a magnet. Next, Santa Claus is interested in making others happy. He increases the happy moments in the life of everyone he meets. He loves his work; he gets fun out of his job. He is childlike, simple, humble, sincere, and forgiving. Finally, he is a giver. His philosophy is to give himself away in service. He is a friend to everyone. He smiles. Perhaps, you and I could attain greater happiness if we emulated Santa Claus a little more, for his way is the way of the Infant Jesus also.”
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Years ago, when she was just a little girl, Katie Hughes saw her “Santa Claus” emulate this Christlike love and she has never forgotten it.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones Pearson: I couldn’t help but wonder because I have known you for a while now and have gotten a little bit of a taste through social media, not only of your immediate family but of your extended family as well. Your parents, Katie, were big gatherers as well. So I wondered what did the holidays look like for you growing up and what have you carried into your own family from the way that they did things and what have you left behind?
Katie Hughes: Our holidays were really the perfect mix of Christ and Claus, that’s the best way to put it. I know some people don’t love Santa Claus. But I love what I think Elder Faust said once that Santa Claus really emulates the Savior. So if we can have one more symbol that brings us closer to say the Savior, then that’s okay. But they had such a good mix of making the magic with Santa Claus. I remember there was one year … I’ve got to tell the story. It’s too, too good.
So, it was like my second-grade year. And I really wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll. And I didn’t want just a Cabbage Patch Doll of any kind. I wanted a specific one like the [tiny] babies because they were so cute. They were bald-headed babies that were the absolute cutest. And I am just positive my mom within the great expanse of all the responsibilities she had, at the time, probably tried to find a new one, but couldn’t. And I remember waking up Christmas morning and seeing a more mature Cabbage Patch Doll with red yarn hair. And I remember not identifying with this doll at all, thinking this is not the gift I wanted. And I’m sure my parents saw my disappointment in my probably eight-year-old little heart and eyes. And my mom and dad had gone the distance of having a letter that was accompanying the present and it was written in beautiful cursive and it was from Santa Claus. And the best part is, it was not in English, it was in French. And nobody in my home spoke French at all. And so my mom and dad, in their wisdom said, ”Who speaks French? Who could possibly tell us what’s in this letter?”
And she had this great idea that our next-door neighbor Paul, who was many, many years older than me, could translate this letter to me from Santa. I went over to Paul Christensen’s home next door and he translated this letter. And Santa said to me, “I know you wanted this other doll. I left the doll you wanted with a girl in France. And you got her doll. Can you please like this doll?” And it was everything. It was everything I needed to make me love that doll. And he was going so fast he forgot he was speaking in French instead of English. And I have treasured that little letter my whole life. And of course, it’s Paul who wrote the letter in the first place. But I thought, “Oh, the distance they went to help keep the magic alive and help me believe in this magic which to me connects us to Jesus in all the ways.” This love we feel—this magic we feel—is really love. And my mom and dad in multiple ways through the years brought us to Jesus. There was always a story, there was always a way to serve. There was always a way to love that was different than throughout the year.