IN 1725, Benjamin Franklin was little more than a nobody. He spent his days toiling away as a printmaker’s apprentice in London, dreaming of a better life. At 19 years old, young Ben felt torn between two shores. The first was England. The second was the capital of the new world, the city of Philadelphia.
Ben had been to the new world before, he'd grown up there. He'd been to Philadelphia, too. He loved the people. He loved the hustle and bustle of the city streets. But, more than anything else, he loved the promise of a fresh start.
And so a young Ben Franklin set sail for the colonies, started his very own print shop and made a home for himself in a new city.
But something was still missing.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, moving thousands of miles away to start anew, but it isn’t easy. Ben found himself missing his life back in England, his family in Massachusetts. He wanted someone he could talk to.
And then one day, he found just that.
While on a routine stroll through the city streets, Ben turned down a cobblestone alley to see a most peculiar sight. There, right there before his eyes, was a jolly old man in a bright red suit with a bushy white beard. The man looked just like…
“Santa Claus?!” exclaimed Ben.
“Hello, my boy!” said the jolly old man, “You’ve arrived just in time.”
“Just in time for what?” asked Ben.
“I seem to be in need of some help.” Said Santa, waving a piece of paper around as he spoke. “I received this letter from a good little girl, but try as I might, I just can’t seem to make out a single word.”
“I think I have just the thing for you,” said Ben, reaching into his coat pocket. “I’m an inventor, you see. In my spare time, I made these.”
From his pocket, Ben pulled out an extraordinary gadget.
“I call them spectacles. Bifocal spectacles.” said Ben, beaming with pride. “Go ahead, try them on.”
It’s hard to describe to you what happened next. To you and I, a pair of spectacles may seem commonplace, but in 1725, no one had heard of such a thing.
“What do you think?” asked Ben.
“I love them!” shouted Santa, “I can read every word! The name could use some work, though.”
Santa paused in thought before saying, “I think I’ll call them ‘glasses’.”
And that, boys and girls, is how Benjamin Franklin and Santa Claus became fast friends.
Every Christmas after that, Ben would find a mysterious gift underneath his tree with a card signed ‘S.C.’. One year, he received a new pair of shoes. Another year, he received a bike.
But the present he cherished the most was a handmade kite made by Santa himself.
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