The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.
We are all holly and jolly and decorating our Christmas tree. The scent of evergreen mingles with the aroma of homemade sugar cookies just out of the oven. Christmas carols ring gaily from my CD player. A wood fire crackles and pops on the hearth.
Six-year-old Daniel, my son, and three-year-old Sarah, my daughter, help hang ornaments on the branches they can reach and hand ones to me to place on the upper boughs. They giggle and chatter merrily together. Seeing them getting along so well prompts a smile.
The spirit of Christmas is surely infectious!
I am caught up in the ambiance of the moment. The glow of tree lights. The treasured ornament hung in the perfect place. Memories of Christmases when I was a little girl . . .
"Hey, Mom?" Daniel's voice shatters my reverie.
"Are God and Santa Claus the same?"
Into a million pieces . . .
"Daniel!" I gasp, "Whatever would make you think that?"
"Oh, you know that song, Mom."
Daniel begins to sing and Sarah, never one to be bested by her brother, joins in.
"He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake; he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!"
I am dumbfounded. Tripped up by first-grade theology. Trapped by the Santa myth.
One I wish with all my heart I had never promoted at all.
Two weeks before Christmas. Two little Santa believers. Two little children of God . . .
This is not the time to expose Santa as an imposter.
"Daniel," I begin, "Santa sure sounds like God in this song, but he is not God in Heaven."
"Then, how come he has the same powers as God?"
Give me the words, Lord! Give me the words!
"Santa doesn't have the same powers of greatness. He has gifts God has given him, just like Sarah and you have your special talents."
Oh, Lord, I wish I could just tell them the whole truth and not break their hearts . . .
"Wow! God must love Santa a whole bunch!" Daniel exclaims.
"A whole bunch!" Sarah echoes.
"God loves everyone the same," I assure them.
The right words at last . . .
As adults, it's easy to forget how literally children view the world. We see no harm in perpetuating the magical persona of Santa Claus as one who knows all, sees all, and rewards good behavior.
This can be confusing to a child who is just learning about God and His love for him.
But, before we throw the jolly old elf out like the baby with the bath water, can we redeem him? Can we be specific with our little ones, right from the get-go, that Santa Claus embodies the spirit of giving? And, in this spirit, acknowledges the coming into the world of the greatest gift mankind has ever and will ever know?
As Christmas approaches, I pray you will reflect upon ways you can help your children or grandchildren embrace the true reason for the season.
And, still leave cookies and milk for Santa.
Psalms 5, 6 or 10, 11
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12