There is something special about a child who believes. There is an innocence and a naivety. Their world is full of magic and hope. Parents look into their children’s eyes and see that twinkle of wonderment and mystery. We see something of our former selves in them – that hopeful self that knows nothing of the latest unsettling world events or even of what happened last week in apartment 4B just down the hall. For this reason, many of us find a kind of return to innocence in the Santa traditions.
It is therefore, no wonder that when relatives find out that you are “not doing Santa” with your children, that they will feel a sense of loss for them. You can see the disappointment flush across their face as to say, “What? No Santa? Why would you rob your children of the magic of Christmas?!” For them, exposing your children to the “truth about Santa” is to begin pulling back the curtain of innocence and exposing them to the raw unvarnished truth about a world without magic. And they feel a sense of loss, not merely for your child, but for their themselves – if your children do not believe, then they too are bereft of any opportunity to vicariously revisit the hopefulness of their former innocence. Life has enough pain, why rob your children of the mystery of Santa? Right?
Well, not exactly. That could be true if Santa was our only hope. But, many of us are still believers in a different narrative. We do not listen on the rooftop for the click of hooves or look to the sky for Santa’s sleigh like we were taught as children. But we look still to the sky with a real anticipation. We still find power and hope in the stories of scripture where Elijah is separated from Elisha with a fiery chariot and then taken to heaven in a whirlwind to return later before the second coming of Christ (2 Kings 2:11, Malachi 4:5). Jesus said, “Elijah is indeed coming first” (Matthew 17:11) and the book of Acts asks, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).
So, you see, as we celebrate Christmas, we are not only celebrating the baby Jesus, but look to the sky for His second coming. There is no greater mystery than God. There is no greater gift than God’s gift of Himself to us. There is no greater return to innocence than becoming of a child of God. Therefore, let us commiserate with those who feel a sense of loss for our children (and themselves) and let us share with them the mysteries of God that give us hope and power this holiday season. Let’s lift our eyes together to the sky for when we will be transformed because we will see Him like He is (1 John 3:2) as He comes in His glory and power and the train of His robe fills the Heavens!
Note: This is part three of a three part series on Santa. See also “I Saw Mommy and Daddy Kissing Santa Clause: What we are Teaching our Children with our Santa Traditions and And Still No Room in the Inn for Jesus: Telling Kids the Truth about Santa.