Last week we hosted our 4th annual Christmas dinner party with our friends which included delicious food, our annual white elephant gift exchange, and great conversation. We always find reason to laugh until we cry and this year was no exception. How fortunate we are to have great friends!
Once plates were licked clean, my husband Jeff asked, “How far did you go to convince your kids that Santa was real?” People shared stories of their childhood memories of Santa as well as their children’s. All of us did stockings and gifts from Santa for our kids. My friend Carla, recalled, as a child, how she found a gift in a closet a few days before Christmas, with a tag that read, “To Carla, from Santa.” She was crushed. Lori shared the fun they had with their kids, then added, “but they always knew the true meaning of Christmas.”
My husband and I later reflected on Lori’s statement and realized that, sadly, we couldn’t say the same was true for our children.
Jeff and I went to great lengths to convince our children that Santa was real! The reason for the season in those years was Santa. We even convinced our kids that the REAL Santa was at Laurel Park Mall in Livonia, MI (a suburb of Detroit where we lived). My husband reflected on the year when he challenged the kids to stay up and try to catch Santa. They gladly accepted the challenge. I was clearly annoyed! He realized around 11:00 what a bad idea that was! Our two kids, Nate (eight years old) and Jenn (four years old), were determined to stay up all night if needed. So Jeff and I put into force a great scheme: as a surgeon, it wasn’t unusual for him to get called in at any time, day or night. So, at 11:30 he announced that the emergency room had called. And off he went. (Somehow I was able to convince the kids to stay downstairs in the basement and play games while we waited for Santa.)
The stockings were hung by the chimney upstairs on the main floor. Not long after Jeff left, he called. "I just heard on the radio that Santa is near our house!" (Little did our children know that before Jeff left, when he went upstairs, he put out all the gifts from Santa.) Nate and Jenn ran upstairs excited and hopeful to catch him in the act, but instead, found all their gifts and a sooty glove that Santa must have left behind. It’s a great story! One we enjoy telling to this day! But we really missed the the meaning of Christmas for our children.
What’s the reason for the season? Is it bright lights and Christmas trees? Is it sharing the mystery with your children of how Santa visits all these houses across the entire world in one night? Is it getting gifts for friends and family? Is it spending time with family and eating until your stretchy pants are even a bit too snug? Yes, it is all of that. But I now realize there is so much more to Christmas! That little baby born in a manger is the real reason for the season. The story of his birth is told in Luke 2. Jesus came to be amongst us, to show us miracles and unconditional love from our Heavenly Father. He was a teacher of many things. And the only one who ever walked the earth as a perfect human. He was flawless and without sin. And in fact, he eventually died for us...for you and for me. Isn’t that amazing?! Without Him, our savior, we wouldn’t have the hope of being forgiven for our sin and of one day being able to join him in heaven. He came so that we would be set free. He took on all of our sin when he later died on the cross for us. That’s the reason for season.
So when you tuck your kids in tonight, or sit around the Christmas tree on Christmas Day, amongst the excitement and wonder of Santa, remember to tell them the story of baby Jesus. Help them know the true reason for the season. Help them know that because of him, they are free from sin and can have eternal life. Help them embrace that wonder...the wonder of how a little tiny baby came to save us.