It is the 25th of December. It has been snowing for weeks, painting a bright white winter scene outside.
Lisa is busy making a snowman in the garden while Max, her brother, sits in the kitchen, building a tower with the freshly baked cookies Mom has just taken out of the oven. “Max, don’t eat so many of them!” warns Mom. “I’m not!” Max replies, “I’m just so bored. I can’t watch TV because the living room is locked.”
Then he remembers the presents stashed under the Christmas tree in the living room. Max has asked for a game console. He has been waiting a whole month for it.
Suddenly, the doorbell rings. “I’ll get it!” Max says, rushing to the front door. A tall man with a long white beard and a red hat stands there. “Are you Santa Claus?” Max asks, a bit shy.
“Who’s at the door?” Dad asks. “Santa Claus,” Max says timidly. “Do you have some food for me? Or a dollar?” the big man asks. Max hides behind the dresser in the hallway, wondering, “Why does Santa need money? Can’t he pay for the presents?”
Das searches for his wallet. “Uh, yeah. Here are 5 dollars,” Dad replies and closes the door.
“Was that Santa?” Max asks as the door shuts. “No, just a homeless man who needs something to eat,” Dad answers and returns to the kitchen to read his newspaper.
Max runs off to his room, pondering. “What if that was Santa?”
Later that afternoon, the family heads off to Christmas Mass. The white snow crunches under their boots as they walk. Lisa runs ahead and forms white snowballs. “Watch out!” she yells, throwing a snowball at Max’s hat. “Just wait!” Max shouts, packing the snow with his gloves and forming his own snowball. Then he suddenly spots the poor ‘Santa’ sitting alone on a park bench, feeding pigeons old bread crumbs.
“Come on, Max, hurry up. We’re going to be late for mass,” Mom calls out.
Max looks back once more at the man on the bench, wondering, “Is Santa really going to sit there alone while we eat warm potatoes with gravy, red cabbage, and roast tonight?”
Inside the church, everything is festively decorated. A huge Christmas tree, candles flickering everywhere, the choir singing carols, and children performing set the mood. Then the priest speaks: “Christmas isn’t about lavish feasts or fantastic presents. We’re fortunate. We’re all not hungry, and we can afford presents. Christmas is about sharing and caring for the less fortunate. Let’s remember them and make Christmas a true celebration of love.” Max thinks about the old man in the park.
After returning home, Max recalls the priest’s words and the game console under the tree, making him feel bad.
Max runs to the basement and packs up everything he finds. He finds gingerbread, oranges, bread, and nuts on the shelf. Then he runs to the attic and finds old gloves, ski socks, and a warm coat. He puts everything in his backpack. Max has to hurry before Mom calls for dinner. Quietly, he sneaks into the kitchen, grabs the thermos of hot cocoa, and then carefully sneaks out of the house.
Max rushes to the park, where the old man is still sitting on the bench, pigeons asleep in the tree above him. Max is a little scared. What if the man is not friendly? Cautiously, Max approaches him. “Merry Christmas!” Max says softly. “I have a present for you,” he says, putting his backpack beside the bench. He unwraps the warm cocoa first. Then he pulls the coat and gloves out of the backpack. “Here you go. You won’t be cold tonight,” Max tells him, placing the items beside him.
“Thank you so much!” the man says. “No one has been this kind to me in a long time.”
Max gives the man a warm smile and quickly walks home.
Back home, Mom, Dad, and Lisa are waiting by the Christmas tree. “Come on, Max, we can finally open the presents!” Lisa shouts. With a big grin, Max sits next to Lisa under the Christmas tree and feels that he has truly experienced Christmas more than anyone else today.