"Why? That's so sad..." I stood combing his hair in the bathroom this morning, nervous anticipation clumping in the back of my throat, trying to decide if I should cough it up or swallow it back down. Yeah, he's nine, but he's still my baby, and I want him to believe.
"Well, I told him I don't think it's your parents. I believe in Santa."
"I do, too, David... I do, too..."
I struggled a couple of years ago with the whole concept of Santa when David finally reached to age to pose questions like how does Santa make it to all the houses and how can he be at the mall and still be at the North Pole getting toys ready. I felt like I was caught in an endless trail of lies trying to explain things away. Then I opted for a different approach to answering his curiosity. I told him as close to the truth as I could... that I don't know how Santa does all he does, and that he has a lot of helpers all over the world. I mean, that's all true, right?
I honestly don't know how Santa does what he's able to do. How he manages to get all those gifts together for just our house. How he finds the time, the money, the energy, the hiding places. In and of itself, our house is a Christmas miracle. But the miracle happens year after year no matter what. And Santa does have lots of helpers all over the place who work to carry out the magic of his name and keep his spirit alive in the hearts of the young and old. They come in all forms... some with not-so-convincing fake beards, some in the shape of little stuffed toy-like elves purchased in stores that come alive and night and do funny stuff while children sleep, some who share the contents of their wallets with perfect strangers so they can have a wish fulfilled, some who donate food so that the unfortunate can have a good meal. Santa has all kinds of helpers. It's more than just one man.
The older I get, the more I realize that Santa is not so much about all the presents, though that must be the most exciting part for the little ones. Santa is more about love and the act of giving through that emotion. And the more mind tumbles the concept over and over, the magic of Christmas mimics my faith in someone else... another concept that young and old ponder the magnitude of... God. How is He everywhere all the time? How does he hear my prayers and the rest of the prayers being offered up simultaneously? How does He always know what I need and find a way to provide it no matter if I've been naughty or nice? Wrapping my brain around the miracle of God's love is kinda like one of our kids trying to get the logistics of Santa flying around the world in one night delivering toys to children's homes. It's inconceivable, yet it happens. Every Christmas morning, my children get up and find that though it doesn't make sense to their minds, Santa has come.
Every day, something reminds me that God's love for me makes zero sense. I lose my cool and yell at my kids. I gossip. I say something hurtful to my spouse. Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I do and say things that do not honor the One who made me. Yet He keeps showing up for me. Every morning, I am new and fresh and whole in His eyes, and He loves me the same as He did the day before and the day before that one. It makes no sense to me, but He keeps on doing it.
Let me share a portion of my favorite Psalm. I wept when I read it - really read it - for the first time. There I sat in my chair, crying like an idiot because I was so humbled and overwhelmed by the magnitude of God.
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I go from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139: 1 - 10
That's only half of it, but to me, that's the miracle of God. He's before me, behind me, over me, and under me. He's there when I make the good decisions and the bad ones. He knows where I am going and where I've been. And the glory of it all is that he, unlike most humans on this earth, understands the why of what I do. And I love how David says that this knowledge is too wonderful for him - too lofty for him to attain. In today's terms, I would think he'd say, "Wow, this is totally over my head how God does this." In other words, I don't understand how He's able to do it, but I know that He does.
I know that He does. I believe. I believe He knows me, He knows my footsteps, my thoughts, my whens and wheres and whys. I believe He holds me in His right hand. I believe it more today than I ever have. And I am so thankful.
Long after I stopped believing in Santa, I still woke up year after year to a stocking full of goodies and gifts left during the night. Funny how Santa did that for me even when I didn't believe in him. Funny how my parents loved me so much they wanted me to have that joy year after year, right up until I got married. Funny how God passes down His love that way... from Heavenly Father to earthly parents. Funny how now it's gone right through me and onto my children. Funny how believing in something that's bigger than anything you can wrap your mind around can sustain through the generations.
Do you really believe? I do.