Klaus stood, transfixed, gazing into the face of the tiny angel in his arms, the words of promise still echoing in his mind. As he stared in wonder he felt the hands of the young woman reach up to his face and gently stroke his beard. He forced himself to glance away from the child into the eyes of the teenage mother who looked intently up at him, smiling, with tears in her eyes. Momentarily, her young husband stood beside her, holding her with one arm and clasping Klaus’ burly bicep with the other. Not a word was spoken.
Gradually Klaus loosened his hold on the swaddled child as the mother took the babe in her loving arms. He watched mother and child in their personal reunion and then turned away, leaving them to their moment. He straightened to his full enormous height and took in a full breath of the fresh, desert air. He suddenly felt more alive than he had ever felt in his life.
Striding to his bag on the ground he reached inside for his pouch of denari. Counting out one hundred of them he turned to the young father and handed them to him. He spoke no Aramaic, but did his best to impress upon him to hurry in his departure, and use the money to advantage. Herod and the Romans would be in pursuit soon enough, but there was time now.
Gathering up the family’s few scattered belongings, Klaus packed them onto the donkey and readied the couple to go. When he finally turned to them for his farewells, the young mother looked up at him again and, handing the baby to her husband, raised a hand to his beard. As gently as she could, she slowly pulled his face down to hers and kissed him sweetly on the cheek, before letting him go with a smile.
Klaus pulled back in surprise. With the single exception of his mother, no woman had ever kissed him. And that had been a long, long time ago. A deep laughter slowly rumbled irresistibly within his huge chest and suddenly burst from his red cheeks, resounding into the night. He wrapped the young father and mother – and the child – once more in his muscular arms and released them. There was a tear in his eye.
Turning, he tossed his bag over his back and went on his way, through the night, rejoicing. He marched until morning and on through the day. He rested the next night, but never really seemed to get tired. He continued over the weeks to walk north through Syria, and then west through Cappadocia, Galatia, and Asia. He spent very little of his remaining denari on his own needs, but instead bought food, and clothing, and care for those who needed it.
As he journeyed, he found himself drawn to children and they were drawn to him, his happy nature and his booming laughter. He shared stories with them, spent time with them and carved gifts for them. And wherever he went, the little ones remembered him.
He traveled on through Thracia, Macedonia, Dalmatia, and Germania – from town to town and country to country — fulfilling the promises of the child of Judea – giving generously until his money was gone. But still he continued to give of himself and his heart.
The weeks stretched into months, and the months into years. Over those years and miles Klaus grew older, his beard turned in time from red to grey to white. But in a real sense Klaus never seemed to age. He was forever vigorous and hearty, always kind, endlessly good, and forever sharing his gifts, as well as the message of the holy child who had sent him. And finally, in the passage of time, Klaus ventured from his homeland to the countless nations beyond, where children awaited him, year after year, for the gifts which he brought them and spirit he bore.
And it was ever said of him that his laughter gave joy, his great heart shared kindness, his good nature warmed the troubled soul, and his generosity imparted glad tidings. He has never been forgotten in the memory of mankind, and he has lived to this day in the hearts of children everywhere, and will forever.
He came to be known as Santa Klaus.