My story has a simple beginning.

I was born to parents that made their living on the cold lakes of the netherlands. My father was a fisherman. One year, in the dead of winter - my sister caught a fever. She drifted in and out of this fever for many days. Finally, it seemed as though she was ready to pass into the afterlife. She had grown thin, and pale - and refused to eat. And yet she seemed to have a peaceful sort of glow about her. My mother grew exceedingly worried. She demanded of my father, then and there - that she must be taken to the village at once. But the night was cold, and my father decided that the only way that she would survive the night - would be if she were to be carried across the ice. And so my mother, and my father - carrying my sister wrapped soundly upon his back - all made their way out in the cold night. My father told me that he would be back in the morning. But he did not return.

I seem to remember most, about them - how young and beautiful my sister looked. I was jealous of her, when she was born. Mother and Father always seemed to have more than enough time for her, and very little time for me. I would carve toys out of wood, on the porch - while mother bared her breast to feed the small and sickly girl. But I remember, more than the jealousy - a sense of caring and love for her. She was so small, and delicate. Like the finest toy that could ever be made. I was proud to be her brother. I missed her greatly.

The Village decided what was to be done with me. It was a hard winter, but the harvest was good and I was allowed to stay with local family. As my parents had died on the 24th, every morning - on the 25th - I was to go to a new family. In this way, they could feed me and the burden would be shared by all. What I did not realize then, was that I befriended the boys and girls I grew up with - in a way more deep and profound than any I could have experienced in a school. I was not unlike their brother. And they brought their toys to me. A small sailboat whose sail had been broken. A wooden cat. I fixed them. As I left to go to another house, I would make a gift of the things I had fashioned that year, out of wood. My father's carving knife bit into the soft pine and even the hard oak. I enjoyed spending hours with them.

I apprenticed to a furniture maker, and there I learned the basics of a craft that made me a wealthy man. And every year I returned to the lake. I made a hole in the ice, and dropped a toy within. At each doorstep, of all the friends I had made - I left gifts for them, and later, for their children. And the children began to tell stories.

And yet, I stayed in my lonely home, far north of the Village. Content that I was doing some good in the world. I travelled the villages, and as my wealth grew - so did my capability to make the gifts that I would now leave at the doorstep. In time, the children told stories of me. But I would never admit to leaving the gift. In part because I was shy. But more so, that I wanted them to dream of gifts that appeared from thin air. I wanted them, simply. To dream.

I grew old. And in my final year, I could not ride the sleigh I had made to carry the toys. The red suit that I used to spur on my pullers had long since grown threadbare. And I finally ,and simply. Stopped. But as I aged, with my long white hair and beard - I noticed something wonderful. It seemed as though the older I became, the more the friends I had made when I was young - stepped up to help me. And in turn, the children of those friends. In my last year of life, the gifts that had been left on the porch - were almost entirely made or bought by the fathers and mothers of the children who received them.

And in the last minutes of my life, I felt the peace of a life well lived. I smiled. And I also cried a small tear, for my sister. Death gave me a clear perspective on life. And a life , well lived - came to an end.

The stories, of course - grew. And they took on a life of their own. They say that I flew through the air. They say that I travelled around the world. Perhaps, if the world as we know it - still has a bit of imagination - and wonder. I have.

But like you, I lived. I walked this earth. I ate warm soup and hot chocolate and fresh bread. I walked through the snow and felt it crunch beneath my boot. I saw my breath roil in the cold air.

And I could not have imagined you. Or this network - in which I have been digitized and for which I am now a ghost in the machine. This place where, it seems, there is no death. Where parts of everyone still fly about and remain - even after they have long since left the earth. We both do our best, I think. To imagine each other.

And to give each other a name.

Merry Christmas.