Christmas is, in no particular order, a season of lights and decorations, gift giving, charity, Santa and the birth of Christ. If you are like most people, your Christmas is a combination of all of these. You likely put up a tree and decorated it. You might even have had a little family friendly competition for the best, biggest or craziest tree. You maybe thought about charity a bit more than other times of the year and likely put your change in the “red bucket” as you exited the store. You have looked for the perfect gift and checked it off your list once you found it. If you are fortunate to have children or grandchildren who yet believe in Santa, you found them Santa and thrilled at the excitement in their eyes.
I have two grandchildren and we recently did our visit to Santa and yes, the toy aisle in that department store. In fact, I got to spend the better part of an hour watching my grandson carefully inspect each toy, trying to find the one he would add to his Christmas list. Of course, now I need to sneak back there and make the purchase, knowing the reward will be his excitement as he opens the gift Christmas morning. This is a part of what Christmas is and I will not diminish it with a lecture on the evils of commercialism.
Christmas is a season of sharing. We share traditions. We share friendship and charitable behavior. We share the myth of Santa knowing that it is only a brief time in our lives when we choose to believe in him. My grandson, on his way to being five years old, is already showing signs of questioning the idea. He is testing. This Christmas he has established that he knows what he wants from Santa but try as we will, he will not reveal his request to anyone other than Santa. Oh, we will find out because it is our duty. The knowledge of the truth is another piece of childhood innocence lost. And so we will go out of our way to perpetuate the myth as long as possible.
This brings me to the story I need to share. It is the story of my oldest daughter’s discovery that Santa was a myth. Bailey had been holding desperately to her belief in Santa. My wife and I, with Bailey in tow, were out doing some shopping. My wife had stumbled onto the bargain bin of stocking stuffers and without realizing, picked out a couple of items and commented on how they would make great “Santa Gifts”. Unfortunately, Bailey was clearly within earshot and her reaction was predictable. Her tear stained face looked up at me and the question she wanted to ask was obvious. We took a little walk and eventually she asked the question. “Does this mean there isn’t really a Santa, that it’s just you and mom pretending?” I could have tried to cover it up or maybe even lied, but the explanation was in order. I explained to her that we were in fact Santa but that what was important to understand was that it was an honor and a responsibility to play this role. I went on to explain that Christmas was about sharing and that Santa and being Santa was a way of showing this. I told her that now that she knew the true intention of the myth, she had earned the right to become the Santa for the baby sister we were expecting. She would get to be the Santa for her. That next Christmas, Bailey did not disappoint. Christmas Eve found her putting out the Santa treats with her little sister and even stomping around the living room going ho ho ho after her sister had been put in her crib. Bailey never missed a beat those next few years as she added her own layers to the Santa story.
Christmas is about sharing. Being Santa for our children and grandchildren is a chance to demonstrate the spirit of that sharing through our gifts. We have an incredible opportunity to give from our bounty through our gifts and our actions and our willingness to share. That is the true spirit of Christmas. Model this spirit with your children and when they have outgrown their belief in Santa, invite them into the true spirit of the myth.
This Christmas, as you consider the perfect gift for that someone special, realize that it is the action of sharing that is the truly perfect gift. This is your chance. Don’t wait. Go be Santa to someone.