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Santa And The Spirit
Mommy Musings 11-29-23

What would a column space entitled “Mommy Musings” be without a nod to Santa Claus?

I gave this some thought this past weekend, as the wonderment of sitting on the Jolly Old Soul’s lap has long passed my two not so small humans. As many of my friends have transitioned from parents to grandparents the magic, mystery and wonderment is now alive in the next generation.

Recently as our family cared for a three-year-old while my adopted baby sister (aka her mom) worked, it became apparent to me how short the magical Santa window actually is … or is it?

As I recently reflected on the age of wonder and how quickly that age passes, I thought of what a friend once shared about Santa Claus representing the Spirit of Christmas, kindness, selfless and giving. Then, as I often do, I applied that to my own life and how I’ve seen that show up.

When really thinking about it the spirit and peak season for the lessons of Santa come every year at Christmas time. The reality however is that it’s exemplified through every day folk all year long.

Case in point, the column I had originally started for this week’s issue was about the unique kindness which seems to run rampant at this time of the year. Some people are just this way year-round and I feel blessed to call a good number of them “friend.”

One such friend would be the owner and chief cheerleader of The Bake Shop at Bloomingcamp Ranch, Betsy (Stueve) Townsend. For those who know Betsy there’s no reason to read further, she’s truly an “if you know you know,” type of person/friend. Her heart somehow seems to come through her smile. Hers a smile which can and does light up any room, even in the most stressful of times - she beams.

Several years ago, I started a very unhealthy habit with my friend and pie savior Betsy. It started the Monday before Thanksgiving as I recognized I had not yet placed my pie order for turkey day. In a new relationship and eager to impress the family, I knew the pie had to come from Bloomingcamp’s.

Desperate and doing what none of us should do, rather than call the Bake Shop, I shot a quick text to Betsy with an SOS emergency. Surely she would understand … and she did. By that Wednesday I was the proud owner of not one, but two pies to take and share with the family I hoped to win over with my smile and baked goods.

Fast forward to this past week, now in my sixth year of “how did I forget again?” Fortunately, the Bake Shop had posted to their Instagram that they’d made extra pies the Tuesday before.

Score! I thought to myself. For once, I am not going to bother Betsy. After all she has enough on her plate; she certainly doesn’t need me maintaining this embarrassing tradition.

So as I traveled west for a doctor’s appointment, my son traveled east to pick up the coveted pie - pecan to be most specific. Committed to not disturb the staff I instructed my son, if that was sold out, something else would suffice.

Traveling home from the doctor later that day, alas there was a text from Betsy. She had spotted my boy at the Bake Shop and wondered if he had walked away with my favorite. She further shared, if he hadn’t, she’d make sure there was one put aside for me the next day.

Wait! What!?!?

Here I was trying to break a terrible habit/tradition only to be treated to selfless kindness from my own little Santa Claus Spirit.

Reflecting back on this, thinking of all the littles and the magic and wonderment of the Jolly Old Soul who somehow magically leaves goodies and gifts for their surprise this year, I thought about Betsy. Then oddly enough, I thought about Jesus, the nativity and the wise men.

The beauty and significance of giving each Christmas season is simply demonstrated through a Jolly Old Soul which truly helps bridge the gap between the young and the old.

So cheers to the commercialized old fat man who represents so much more than a bag of materialistic goods. Cheers to the spirit of giving, acts of kindness and the joy we may bring to others acting from a place of selflessness simply because it feels good to spread joy.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 209-847-3021.