I was seven years old and one of the neighbor kids took it upon herself to break it to me gently.
“What are you? Stupid?” She laughed, satisfied her disclosure had hit its mark. “There’s no Santa Claus. Moms and Dads are the ones who leave stuff under the Christmas tree—not some fat guy in a red suit.”
Certain that my once-in-a-while playmate was fibbing, I tried to shove the hurtful words aside.
Stupid. No Santa Claus. Some fat guy in a red suit.
“That’s not true!”
I shook my head no and ran to ask my mother.
Daddy was at work, but I knew Mama would indeed know the answer.
In a childlike tizzy I let the screen door slam behind me and hurried to the living room where Mama held my baby sister.
“Mama! Mama! You’ll never guess what Carol just said!”
I boohooed and blubbered. I couldn’t get the words out fast enough.
“Carol said Santa Claus isn’t real! But he is! I know he is!”
My mother sighed, paused for a moment, and then broke the awful truth.
Though I knew the real reason we celebrated Christmas was because of Jesus, I still wanted to believe in His counterpart—that magical, white-bearded fellow who added a touch of mystery and joy to one of our holiest holiday seasons.
Just like that—like the death of an old, faithful friend—one aspect of my childhood innocence was forever squashed.
As my silent tears fell, Mama cuddled me close with her free hand and kissed the top of my head.
“We can still believe in the spirit of Christmas, darling. No one can ever take that away. Our Heavenly Father created us with so many wonderful capabilities, one of which was imagination. And Santa Claus has been a very active part of children’s imaginations for years.”
Mama’s words, so thoughtful and measured, comforted me.
My heart still stung, but I felt a little better.
Carol didn’t know everything. She lacked imagination.
Today I understand and accept that our creativity comes from our Creator.
Christmas shouldn’t be about commercialism and all the me-centered activities that abound this time of year.
This holiday is about the One who was sent to be our personal Savior. The One who gives life and the One who breathes goodness and inspires imagination.
Still, as I look around, I get a little tingly when I encounter Santa Claus—just like I did last week at a local shopping mall.
Santa ruffled the kiddo’s curly mop and spoke in a jolly, ol’ voice. “What would you like for Christmas, son?”
“Oh. Just one thing this year, Santa.”
“What might that be?”
“A new Bible would be nice.”
I teared up, of course.
Not a toy car, video games, or the season’s hot seller.
A Bible. The true word of God.
This requested from a friend conjured purely from imaginations centuries ago.
What do you think—would Jesus and Santa Claus be friends if Santa were real?