Warning: Not to be read in the presence of young children! Santa Spoiler Alert!!!
Today I was going through some old files on my computer, and ran across a song for which I had actually written the lyrics. A former co-worker of mine is an amazingly gifted singer/songwriter, and knowing how I love to write, she challenged me to come up with some lyrics for a song for her. So, I scratched some out one evening – just some thoughts that were running through my head at the time. It was around this time of year, and I was feeling the way I usually do about right now…a little disturbed at all of the materialism and commercialism, and a lot frustrated for getting so caught up in it myself.
I was listening to the song in the car as I drove to pick William up from school. As he hopped in the car, I turned it off and began my usual barrage of questions: “Where’s your coat? Why aren’t you wearing it? Did you have a good day? Did you get into any trouble today?”
Every single day, I ask those questions. I have become a broken record. And my mom.
Sometimes, though, these questions lead to some great conversations on the way home. Today was one of those days, thankfully.
So, in answer to the question, “Did you get into any trouble today?”, I got the answer, “Yes,” which is, unfortunately becoming a little bit too common with this young man.
Apparently, the teacher didn’t find it funny when Will answered the question of, “What’s one way to work out?” with “With Sasquatch”. Maybe she hasn’t seen the Jack Links commercial with Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sasquatch? Well, I hadn’t either, but Will had, and trying to be funny once again led him into trouble. We’re working on that.
Anyway, in typical Will fashion, this conversation led to another conversation about whether or not Sasquatch is real (of course he is, and we discussed his other names, Big Foot and Skunk Ape, just to make his father proud), which led to a discussion about a few other imaginary beings, like the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and yes, Santa Claus, all of whom he just a couple weeks ago figured out aren’t real.
Yes, that’s right – this is the first year that everyone in my household knows that Santa doesn’t actually come down the chimney and eat the cookies. That’s Daddy. Unless Mommy can beat him to them.
It’s sad in so, so many ways. I’m a little heartbroken, I confess. No more catching Santa as he flies over on Christmas Eve to grab one gift out of his sleigh before the kids get in bed. No more cookies and milk. However, on the upside, I’m not wrapping as many gifts because, A) Santa isn’t bringing a crud-ton of them anymore, B) I don’t have to, and C) it was all just TOO MUCH, anyway. We way overdid it. Now, instead of Santa, the Three Wisemen (Two of us, actually, who got really wise) are bringing only three gifts (or so) for each kiddo, that’s it. So I got that goin’ for me.
But I had to ask William whether or not he had messed up and talked about Santa being real or not at school with the other kids. “Will, you haven’t said anything about that to anyone, have you? Because we talked about that. I don’t want everyone’s mom and dad calling me, blessing me out for spoiling their Christmas this year!” He assured me that he had not, so I hope that’s so. I beg your forgiveness if your Christmas has been ruined this year due to the enlightenment of your child by my own. But, he says he hasn’t been spilling the beans.
So on the way home, our conversation continued as Will said, “Mom, there was a girl in first grade who just shouted it out to the whole class that there’s no Santa, but we didn’t believe her back then. Why wouldn’t she believe in him back then? That’s just sad.”
I explained, “Well, William, there are some parents who don’t want their kids to believe in Santa at all, ever.”
“Well, why in the world not? It makes you HAPPY to believe in him if you’re a kid!” he said.
“Yes, it usually does. But, some parents don’t want their kids to think that some strange old dude brings the gifts. They work hard to buy those presents, and they want their kids to know they are from them. And some people don’t want to put the emphasis on getting a bunch of gifts, so they leave Santa out. They choose to focus on giving during the holidays, or on the real Reason for the Season, Jesus Christ.” I explained.
“Oh, yeah, that makes sense,” he said.
He asked me how long I had believed in Santa, and I told him until fourth grade. And he said, “Good grief, Mom! Kids my age (third grade) and older just shouldn’t believe anymore. I mean, who really believes that some dude can slide down the chimney with a sack of presents?”
“William,” I said, “some people enjoy keeping the belief in Santa Claus alive as long as they possibly can. It’s kind of easy for children to believe in such things. Unfortunately, adults just don’t usually believe in things they can’t see, and it does take away some of the fun of Christmas. You know, not being able to believe without seeing is why so many have trouble believing in Jesus. They can’t see Him. They have no proof. So, they find it hard to believe.”
“But, Will, when we do stop believing in Santa, it doesn’t mean that all of the happiness and joy of Christmas is gone. All those things that you’ve always felt during Christmas, the feelings you get when you’ve thought about Santa…like happiness, joy, love, sharing, caring…? Where do you think those feelings really come from?”
“From Jesus!” he shouted.
“Yes,” I said, “they come from Jesus the Christ, the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. He is the Creator of ALL of those things – all those feelings. Without Jesus, there would never have been a Santa Claus, because those good feelings come from CHRIST, and HIM ALONE.”
“So now, even though we don’t believe in Santa Claus, we can still feel those wonderful feelings of happiness, joy, love, sharing, and caring at Christmas, and all the time, right? Because we know now that those feelings, the feelings we associate with Christmas and “Santa” every year actually come from Jesus, who is STILL with us, all the time, because the presence of His Holy Spirit is within us if you believe. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the idea of Santa Claus when we are children, but as we grow older, our understanding of things changes, and we begin to learn and grow wiser.”
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1st Corinthians 13:11-12)
“But, putting away childish things doesn’t mean that “the joy is gone” and that life has to turn into the world of Lemony Snicket darkness, and people don’t have to turn into the grumpy ol’ Grinch or Scrooge and start holding onto every dime and shouting, “BAH, HUMBUG!” to one another, right?” I asked him.
And he agreed. He got it.
We talked for a while about how these changes get REALLY crazy as you grow older, because you start getting super-excited and happier about giving, much moreso than receiving. That concept is a little out of his league yet…he’s still looking in a really dim mirror on that fine point. In other words, his Christmas list is still pretty long.
However, he understood, and he said it makes sense because, “You and Dad really like to give, and you don’t get much back.” But I explained that he was wrong, we DO get a lot back – just not in the form of “stuff”.
“William, it is so much more fulfilling to give – not just stuff, but also service, and even just time with others. The true “Spirit of Christmas” is about Christ, who gave the ultimate gift, His life, on the cross, so that we can have eternal life with Him in Heaven if we only BELIEVE…”
“So, you see, it IS STILL ALL ABOUT BELIEVING! And if we believe in what Christ has done for us, then we can continue to keep the “Spirit of Christmas” alive and going without Santa Claus…and even better, than that… we can keep it going….”
“ALL YEAR THROUGH!”, Will shouted.
And as I thought more about all of this, the song that I came upon earlier today popped back in my head…and I knew why I had run across it again today, after all these years.
Sometimes, life just gets to be TOO MUCH. And Christmas just gets to be TOO MUCH. And we end up spending, and getting, and eating TOO MUCH.
The past few years, in fact, I’ve found myself getting really down, and actually depressed, around this time of year because of how commercialized the season has become and because of how greedy and materialistic we all seem to get – all through the year. I guess it’s truly brought home just how much so at this time of year in particular.
It’s especially depressing when we consider what is going on all around us now, as we plot and plan our big Christmas dinners, and big Christmas decorations, and big Christmas morning surprises…as Aleppo burns, and refugees are fleeing in the night, and children are starving and being traded for sexual exploitation and slavery, and families are torn apart by drugs, abuse, poverty, and divorce, and people are homeless, and starving…and we can’t even manage a civil word amongst ourselves as we argue about politics and sports and religion…
But, there’s one thing that we can never get too much, nor give too much, of – and that’s the Spirit of Christ, this spirit of giving, of loving, of caring.
These are the ONLY gifts of which it’s true – the more you give, the more you receive.
This year, if there is going to be TOO MUCH of anything, let’s make sure it’s JESUS – and the LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, GENTLENESS, FAITHFULNESS, and SELF-CONTROL – the Fruits of the True Spirit of Christmas – that Christ imparts upon and within each of us who believe.
And here’s a little something extra from me – the song I wrote with my friend and co-worker so many years ago. (Her beautiful voice & music – just my lyrics, which I think were entirely “Too Much” – you’ll see what I mean. LOL) You can say “you knew me when…” Ho Ho Ho Ho!