Satan Santa

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On October 31, 1986, when I was a lad of nine years, I attended 4th grade at a Central Illinois public grade school that employed teachers with a darker side to their personality. Our art teacher enjoyed scaring her students on Halloween, and this year was no different. At the end of the class, the teacher brought the room to a hush and told us the story of Satan Santa.

"Listen up, class! Today's story takes place at Christmas. Santa Claus was originally known as Saint Nicholas over 1700 years ago. Over the years, he became known as Father Christmas, the protector of children and patron saint of gift-giving. The Dutch word for Saint Nicholas is Sinter Klaas, but the Dutch considered him a rascal and trickster. In the early 1800s, his Dutch name became Americanized, changing from Sinter Klaas to Santa Claus."

Intrigued by the history lesson, I raised my hand to ask a question. "Why did the Dutch consider Santa to be a trickster? I thought he was kind and jolly, like in the book, Twas The Night Before Christmas?"

The teacher beamed with delight at my question. "I'm glad you asked, Jeremy. You see, two Dutch children, not much older than you, eagerly awaited Christmas each year. Their parents warned them to go to bed early so Sinter Klaas would come and bring them toys. They raced upstairs but peeked out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the jolly red man. To their delight, they saw a man dressed in red crossing the yard through the snow. Hoping for toys, they jumped into bed and closed their eyes."

At this point, the teacher scanned the room to ensure she held each student's attention. "Later that evening, the parents awoke to the sound of breaking glass and their children screaming. They ran to the window and saw a man in red dragging the bodies of their dead children through the snow. They told everyone that Satan came for their children that night, but as the story grew, the letters of his name became mixed around, becoming Santa.

In Germany, Santa was known as Krampus, a hairy beast with horns, hooves, and blood dripping from pointed teeth. Krampus clothes himself in red and enters the homes of naughty children, spiriting them away at night straight to the gates of Hell itself. So when you think of Santa, remember that he is named for Satan, and he's making a list and checking it twice. He's going to find out if you're naughty or nice and will capture the souls of little children who misbehave."

Needless to say, this story chilled my soul. When the school bus dropped me off, I trudged up the driveway to our farmhouse. Built in the 1880s, our farmhouse sat half a mile back from the highway, and it was surrounded on all sides by cornfields. We did not live in a subdivision, and there were no street lights present to provide light to the farm. I donned a white bed sheet and dressed as a ghost for Halloween. My parents drove me to neighborhood subdivisions, and I spent the rest of the evening filling my bag with candy. Despite the fun evening, I dwelled on the story of Satan Santa all night but did not mention it to my parents.

No street lights reached our farm. When night fell, the outside was dark as pitch. When we returned home, our porch light offered faint illumination of our surroundings. I went to bed without complaint but could not fall asleep. No matter what I tried, I could not drive the memory of the teacher's story from my mind.

Near midnight, the wind increased and whistled through the air. The whistling air changed to shrill cries, and the shrill cries morphed into wild screeches. No trees stood on this side of our house, and my upstairs window faced an open cornfield with no light whatsoever. The new moon was two days away, which meant little light came from the waning crescent moon. I tried to dismiss the noises as wind blowing through the window, but no air drifted through the window frame when I checked.

That's when the demons came for me. They launched themselves at the windows, howling and clawing at our siding. I jumped backward in terror, tripping over my toys as more demons joined the fray. Their clawed hands scratched the glass, making a screeching hiss which turned my blood cold. The raking of their claws changed to ripping and shredding as the demons tore pieces of our cedar siding from the house. I tried to scream but could only make a high-pitched squeak. I knew, in that instant, I was going to die.

I raced back to my bed and threw the covers over my head, praying a prayer of protection derived from the depths of my soul. "Dear Jesus, please protect me! Save me from the devil! I don't want to die tonight! Don't let the devil take my soul!" At once, the clawing, hissing, screeching, and howling stopped. An unexplainable peace washed over me, and my room was flooded with light. I lowered the covers to find an angel staring at me.

He did not have wings but sat on the edge of my bed. He was humanoid, having a head, arms, legs, and torso, but I could not determine any features. His body radiated a brilliant white light, causing me to shield my eyes. I scanned the room, sure I was hallucinating, but the angel remained on my bed, unspeaking and staring at me. Light filled the room to the point where I could find no shadows whatsoever. There was no source for the light. It came from nowhere and everywhere at once, driving away the darkness and my fear.

I gazed in awe at the angel for several minutes. At last, I mustered enough courage to reach out my hand to touch him. The moment my fingers brushed his arm, the angel disappeared, but his light flooded through me, leaving me with a peace beyond anything I could imagine. From that moment, I was changed. The demons never came for me again, but I could sense their presence when they were near. Some people call me sensitive, and others say I have the spiritual gift of the discernment of spirits. Whatever the case, I was blessed to touch something holy.

My parents dismissed this event as an overactive imagination until I repeated the teacher's story of Satan Santa. Over the years, they noticed subtle changes in my personality. At first, they noticed I was no longer afraid of the dark. There was no need for a nightlight because I could now see in the dark with minimal light. Doctors explained my unusual condition as lightened irises which allow in too much light. One doctor theorized it was from staring at a computer screen too long. The only problem with that theory is that I didn't get my first computer until 1989, three years after this event.

I am now 44 years old, and my irises continue to lighten at a gradual rate. To this day, I wear glasses with a yellow tint to avoid migraine headaches. At work, I either wear a hat to block the overhead lights or work in an office with a small lamp. I would use a candle if open flames were allowed within the building, but a low-watt bulb suffices. When I drive at night, I require special glasses to block the glare of headlights. Even low beam headlights bother me, and should someone forget to turn off their high beams, my vision is filled with purple splotches.

When I sleep, my bedroom has blackout curtains, and I wear a night mask because even the red glow of the digital alarm clock lights up the room enough for me to read a book by its faint glow. My son did not inherit this ability. It's a condition unique to me and others who make physical contact with the divine or supernatural. He believes I have cat eyes, but I have not mentioned this story to him because I don't want to traumatize him.

You may scoff or believe this story to be a work of fiction, but I assure you that every word is the truth. Demons came to claim my soul the Halloween I first learned of Satan Santa, but God sent his angel to protect me.

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