Santa takes us, as kids, on a imaginative journey. As a toddler the whole concept is easily believable. After all Mom and Dad are not only giants, they seem able to pull things out of thin air. But soon enough reality starts to set in and there are conundrums to ponder. How does a plump man fit down the chimney? What happens if you house doesn’t have a chimney? Sure he has flying reindeer, but how does he get around the world in one night? How can his bag hold all the toys? Our imagination fixes all these doubts until…
On Christmas Eve the family was at our house. With thirty something people it was packed. The adults all stood around talking. In between playing I kept sneaking back to the dessert table to grab goodies. I distinctly remember picking up a handful of m&ms and hearing Grandpa talking about Santa, “First you believe in Santa, then one day your realize you are Santa.”
For awhile I debated if I heard correctly. Or maybe Grandpa misspoke or was mistaken – he was getting older. But the next season, 4th grade, my dad sat down to talk with me about Santa. He confirmed what I already suspected – Santa was not real. It was a fairly depressing talk… As we grow the magic fades and the world’s reality sets in. It is a broken reality. Even then I was beginning to understand there were haves and have nots. Respected adults – or at least adults in positions of importance – did bad things. Good didn’t always win…
And now there was no longer someone building toys for the world’s children. Just parents buying stuff for their kids. As a fourth grader this was the first time I can remember feeling hollow…
My dad kept talking. As a parent I am prone to do this too – like Dory swimming, I just keep rambling. As a child my little imagination wandered into sadness. But I came back to hear dad telling me that even though I knew the truth I shouldn’t stop believing in Santa.
At the time I had no idea what he meant. I guessed he probably explained himself while my mind was drifting. But as I have grown older and come to dwell in the chaos of life, I have realized the importance of his words – the importance of Grandpa’s words.
Because Santa is real. He doesn’t live in the North Pole. He doesn’t have hordes of talented elves or flying reindeer. For that matter he is not one man. He may not even be a man. For you and I are Santa. And this season we are called to fill the hollowed hearts that are all around us. Maybe with toys. Always with love.
… now if we could just convince people to start leaving us cookies.
Christmas and Santa. These are ideas, imagination, built up around a scene in a manger. Far from garland and cookie trays, God looked down to see our hollowed out lives. The brokenness and pain. The pointlessness. The fear. The longing. So for these children He came. Everything this season – the lights, the trees, even Santa – are trying to describe this magical, impossible moment. The Advent of Christ. The Advent of Salvation.
Our reason for the season is not to celebrate Jesus through decoration. Certainly we will revel with hot cocoa, singing carols, and opening packages. But our season is like the first. The inn keeper finding space for the outsider. The shepherds and wiseman seeking to help the young family. The young couple risking all for the baby. Most importantly the Creator lowering himself. In the same ways we shine the light in the darkness. Sometime physical acts, other times words of affirmation. In everything we live to fill hollowed hearts with the light and love of God.
… so that all the world may know their worth – they are God’s valued and loved creation.