My Search For Santa…

Santa Claus

Santa Claus

It has been a while since Santa Claus has paid me a visit. I am not sure if I beat my brother up one too many times when I was younger, being deemed a bad child or the simple fact that somewhere along the way I grew up. No Christmas has been the same since he stopped coming to my house. Being a child on Christmas eve is a magical thing, there is a sparkle in the cold air and a feeling of overwhelming excitement. It’s a magical feeling that fortunate children all over the world still get to share, waiting for the legendary Santa Claus.

On my search to find Santa Claus, I realized that he isn’t just a legend or a mythical man but a was real person. The legend began with a bishop named Saint Nicholas who was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Turkey. It is rumored that Saint Nicholas inherited a huge wealth of money, he would travel with his riches helping the sick and the poor. He saved poor children from falling into slavery by offering their families money, allowing them to keep their home. Word spread far and wide about this generous man, he became known as a protector of children. Another legend of Santa Claus comes from the Dutch. He was known there as Sinter Klaas his birthday, Dec. 6th is still celebrated there today. It is said that the Dutch brought the legend of Santa Claus with them when they immigrated to America. In 1773 the author, Washington Irvin published a story in the American press about “St. A Claus” which gave details about the Dutch Saint traveling with presents and visiting children. In 1823 a poem was written by Clement Clarke Moore, it was known then as “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” but is known today as “The Night Before Christmas”. Moore gave more details about the jolly Santa. Including what clothes he wore, how his toys were made by elves, how he entered the home through the chimney and even his preferred mode of transportation… his 8 flying reindeer of course! In the 1860 Thomas Nast illustrated Santa Claus, revealing even more details. But the big question was where does Santa live the other 364 days of the year when not delivering presents? Nast’s answered these important details, Santa lives in the North Pole which is where his toy shop and elves live. He also discovered the list of good and bad children and so the details were finalized. Not much has changed about Santa since the 1800’s except that now a days he prefers to wear his red suit. He also added a new addition to the family, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer which he needed to guide his sleigh through a bad storm in the 1930’s.

What is the most important thing that Santa has brought to us? No, it’s not the presents but the idea of giving to the less fortunate. This year when you are trying to decide what to give your loved ones, take the time to think about the children who rely only on Santa’s visit. There are many ways you can help make their holidays better. You can donate a toy, food, money or even your time to the needy. There are many organizations that mimic Santa’s cause. Search for reputable charities near you.

After doing this research I have learned the reason why Santa no longer leaves me a present under the tree, I did in fact grow up. It is now my turn to spread the generosity that Santa has showed me. It is the gift giving and not the receiving that is the most important thing. It can mean more to someone than you will ever know or understand. It is the giving that makes this the most wonderful time of the year.

Oh Flag Betty, Bam A Lam

Betsy Ross is widely credited with being the creator of the first American flag. Despite much debate over this fact, one thing is true, Betsy Ross is one of the most prominent faces in both American and flag history.

Elizabeth Griscom was born on January 1, 1752 in Philadelphia, PA; the 8th of 17 children. She was born into a strict Quaker environment where she learned to sew early in her life from her great-aunt Elizabeth Griscom. After becoming an upholstery apprentice following Quaker schooling, she soon fell in love and married her coworker John Ross. Because Ross was an Episcopal Christian, the Quaker community quickly separated itself from Elizabeth. Betsy and John soon joined Christ Church of Philadelphia where George Washington attended. As you can guess, this is important for the rest of the story.

Betsy and John soon opened up their own upholstery business to start their lives together. When the Revolutionary war began in 1775, John joined the militia, leaving Betsy to remain with their upholstery business. John would eventually be killed in January, 1776 by a gunpowder explosion, leaving Betsy widowed at the young age of 24. Betsy continued to run the upholstery shop…

According to Betsy, George Washington (leader of the Continental Army), Robert Morris (one of the wealthiest men in the US) and Colonel George Ross (uncle of John) approached Betsy about making the first American flag. At that point, she had known Washington from church and had often sewn for him and Martha. Washington had apparently wanted a 6 point star, but after showing how to cut a 5-point star with one swipe of the scissors, they were convinced that she was the right person for the job. She created a 13 star design in a circle. The 13 stars represented the original 13 colonies and is still used in many American flag designs today.

Grand Union Flag

Grand Union Flag

As the Revolutionary War continued, a new flag was needed for the American colonies. Up until this time, most colonies were using flags inspired by Great Britain, such as the Grand Union flag. This is where most of the story gets tricky. The reason most people believe that Betsy Ross created the first American flag is because of a letter that William Canby, Betsy’s grandson, sent to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870, 34 years following her death and a full 96 years following the actual creation of the flag. In this paper, Canby recounts a story that his Aunt had told him regarding the creation by Betsy. However, many of the stories and accounts in this paper have been unable to be verified; however, by most Americans, the story has been accepted as truth and she is generally regarded with the first American flag creation. Will we really ever know if Betsy Ross was responsible for creating the first official American flag? Sadly, probably not.

Getting back to the story! Following the death of John, she returned to her Quaker roots. She would then get remarried to a mariner by the name of Joseph Ashburm. With Joseph, Betsy became pregnant with two daughters, one of which miscarried. A British ship captured Joseph and returned him to a prison in England where he died of unknown reasons without ever meeting his daughter.

Betsy Ross Headstone

Betsy Ross Headstone

She eventually married again to a man named John Claypoole and had 5 more daughters, all the while still running the upholstery shop. John passed away in 1817 after 34 years of marriage. Betsy never remarried and eventually moved in with one of her daughters in Philadelphia following her retirement. She passed away in 1836 and was buried in a Quaker burial site in Philadelphia, PA.

If you are looking for a Betsy Ross flag or any other historical flags for that matter, please check out our website at www.flagexpressions.com.