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Every child needs a Santa

Just when I was settling into the calm and quiet of Advent, along comes St. Nick’s Day to distract me. Given St. Nicholas’ reputation as the model for Santa Claus, it didn’t take me long to be whisked from Advent to Christmas Eve and memories of my very own St. Nicholas/Santa Claus impersonator — my brother, Len.

It probably was two minutes after my cousin Karen’s twins were born that she went out and purchased a Santa suit and gave it to Len to wear on Christmas Eve. By the time my siblings and cousins were finished having babies, there were 10 children within about a six-year span to crowd around Santa on Christmas Eve.

Young James (now taller than his Santa uncle) reaching for a Christmas Eve hug.

Young James (now taller than his Santa uncle) reaching for a Christmas Eve hug.

Len was perfect — he was always portly so the suit needed little alteration — you couldn’t help but want to hug him. And hug him, they did. But he was also “a right jolly old elf.” When he would laugh (either as Santa or in real life), he made everyone around him laugh. In his big, deep voice he would read them some Christmas story or poem and give them a little something — usually a book. I may not remember all those details, but I do know in those moments we were all lifted up, happy to be alive and together.

Perhaps my favorite memory is the year Santa made his usual appearance and Beth, still young enough to be a little scared by the suit and beard, was assured in whispers by her brother and cousins that it was okay — Santa was really Uncle Lenny.

Every child needs a Santa — every family needs an Uncle Lenny. Now there is something to pray for this Advent.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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  1. Veronica 'Roni' on December 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    This time of year brings bittersweet memories of laughter and heightened tradition…while little children need a Santa, older children need a pied piper to play the music and lead them to a light of other discoveries, deeper discoveries; I am among those so very fortunate to have shared that piper with you and others – and in many instances, you, my dearest Dawn, acted as my unknowing piper:) Standing in a mirrored hallway carrying a garland of song, not to mark the coming of Santa, but the coming of a time of year to welcome family and strangers alike, share a meal, a song, a kindness… I so, so wish I could shout to that image I saw in that mirror pane as I waited to enter…”you will never forget these women, these days, these songs! Cherish this, say thank you more often!” Peace to you and all those faces in that hallway – deck the halls, share your wealth of faith and goodness with all! Love to you this season, keep those blogs coming:)

  2. David A. Bole on December 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I recently saw an Obit in the NC Catholics, Diocese of Raleigh magazine, that referenced Sister Frances Joan Baker and I am truly sorry to hear of her passing, although I am sure she is much happier now. I am writing this email because I was wondering if a very distant cousin of mine was ever associated with your Indiana location. His name is Father Tony and has a terrible Detroit accent! In fact he once accompanied a Policeman to my Fraternity House and told the Policeman that he was there to administer last rites to me! That was over 40 years ago. You may also know him as Father Antoine (Rock) Travnikar. He last told me that he was the pastor of Retired Nun location in Southern Indiana, and you seem to fit that description. If you know of him would you please ask him to contact me, just to talk. Yes I still live in North Carolina. In the meantime, I would like to wish all of you a most blessed Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous. My name is David A. Bole and I am the Financial Secretary of K of C Council 9709, at St. Francis Church, Raleigh, North Carolina.

    • Christina Blust on December 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      David, I’ve forwarded your question along to our sisters in the Archives department, who have the best chance of knowing the answer.

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