You see, I never was taught to believe in Santa Claus.
My folks believed in only telling the Biblical story of Christmas and I don’t recall it ever being a problem.
Obviously, I was in the minority and I learned to never talk about it with young friends in case they “still believed.”
But we (my brothers and I) always knew where the gifts came from. We never baked cookies for Santa or wrote him letters or stayed up late in hopes of hearing distant bells or seeing a sleigh on the roof. We never worried that we didn’t have a fireplace, let alone a chimney.
As I grew up and as I became a parent myself, I came to realize what a small sector of the human race I was in. The decision then had to be made for my own kids. Their father and I made the decision to keep Santa as a fantasy – with the occasional photo op, of course.
I don’t recall any problems with my growing up and my unbelief so didn’t expect any with my kids. When my young son was in first grade, however – in a Christian School – he apparently got into a discussion with other kids about Santa and firmly declared that he knew without a doubt that Santa was not real. He got in big trouble with the teacher.
To this day, that bothers me. He’s probably forgotten about it, 30+ years later now, but it still bothers me. Talk about mixed messages!
Anyway, he survived; I survived. We moved on.
As an adult, as a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, I LOVE to give gifts. I love to think of that one special item for that one special person and give. Of course, I always love to receive gifts but I see the pendulum shifting. I don’t need to receive as much as I need to give – a declaration of my love, if you will.
I think of God – He showed His love by giving the greatest gift, His Son. I know I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating: God gave His Son! I cannot fathom.
I have friends who have been separated from their children, through no decision of their own – newborns and grownups – by death, divorce, disagreement, or dissension in the relationships. It’s heart-wrenching!
But God? God made that decision to separate Himself from His Son. Why? For me. For you. To save us so we could live eternally with Him.
Upside? God and His Son are reunited again and my friends who have been separated from their children will one day, by God’s grace, be living with them again.
Just the thought of this brings Christmas and gift giving into a whole new perspective, as I contemplate and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas.
I have a friend named Erin who is a missionary/teacher/school administrator in South Africa. She is a single lady who has the awesome privilege and responsibility of taking in and raising three African boys as her own. In her own words:
“Years ago, when I first got the boys, we watched the Polar Express on DVD. The kids LOVED it and as I put them to bed that night they were very thoughtful. As I hugged Elmon goodnight he said, “Erin, do you ever think Santa is real?” As he was already 10 years old, I told him the truth, that he wasn’t. He quietly responded, “I didn’t think so, since I’ve never gotten a present before.” I remember how my heart broke for him and wondered if he always felt ‘bad’ because Santa didn’t visit their house. I’m so thankful now that my son knows he is unconditionally loved and that God has provided so much more for him than he ever thought possible.”
I don’t think I missed out.
I don’t feel bad that I never believed in Santa nor do I feel bad that my kids never believed in Santa. But I’m so very thankful they believe in Jesus.