Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Christmases That Always Were Anyway

When I was nine years old, I still believed in Santa Claus. A bit old, even for (way) back then, but I had a brother and sister who were very adept at keeping the dream alive. I remember when I was six and seven, my brother would ring the door bell at night while my sister took me to the window to catch a glimpse of the elf running down the street (which I never did see but said I did so as not to appear to be ignorant). At the door was typically an invitation to come visit The North Pole (New York), and my excitement for the soon arriving Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was in full, sleepless bloom.

Then one day, someone in my school mocked me for believing in Santa, so I asked my teacher about it. She said, "You'd better ask your parents." I knew then that I was done for.

I asked my Mom and she told me the truth. I then said, "But isn't Christmas Santa Claus' birthday?" And she said, "Oh no, it's Jesus' birthday." I wept bitter tears, but not because there was no Santa. No, I was very angry at myself for confusing the mostly fictional and mythical character of Santa with the very true and real Jesus (a testament to His working in my heart even at that young age). That incident is the basis for my argument not to incorporate Santa into my own children's lives one day.

When the time was right, from a much more mature perspective, my wife and I told our three boys that they are never to tell their friends that Santa doesn't exist because that is up to their parents to do when the time is right. I continued by saying that we are not "better" or "more spiritual" than other people for not using Santa in our Christmas celebrations, and we are not to think badly of people who do use him, or try to persuade them not to use him in their own celebrations. And you know what? It really worked. The boys took the whole Dad gentle lecture thing to heart, and to the best of my knowledge, never let the cat out of the bag to anyone. And I have hours of home videos to prove just how incredibly excited and happy they were (while they were little) every year when they came down the stairs on Christmas morning, despite knowing that all of their presents under the tree came from Mom, Dad and relatives and friends.

Pic: Our Home December 25, 1998