I’ve been involved in many conversations over the years about Santa; to believe or not to believe, that is the question. And what I’ve found is that many parents are hard core about this. It’s not quite up there with the vaccination wars, but this debate is real.
But honestly. It was never a question for me. Of course, in our home, we’d believe in Santa. We’d do the whole thing. Go see him. Write him letters. Bribe our kids with him on Christmas Eve to go to bed so we can watch our own movies. And thanks to Santa apps, we’d also catch Santa in the act.
I’ve given it a lot of thought. This is what I think. I think we can celebrate the birth of our Savior and believe in Santa at the same time and that the two are not mutually exclusive.
Because…the very capacity to imagine is from God. And sadly in most of us, that capacity is limited to the very youngest years of childhood. But isn’t it our imaginations that allow us belief in a God we can not see or audibly hear? Is it not our ability to wonder that leads us to worship or pray?
Of course I don’t believe in Santa myself. But I encourage it in my precious children as readily as I encourage their imaginative play, and as much as I read purely fictional stories to myself and to them. The ability to believe in the unreal or unseen is, I believe, a gift from God himself. And I’m so grateful.
For us, Santa plays a small role in our celebration. He doesn’t take the place of Jesus. He brings knick knacks like Hershey’s mini assorted candy bars and Little Debbie’s and socks. And someday, my kids will question the likelihood of it all and we’ll tell them the truth and I’ll mourn their precious innocence one step at a time.
But I hope that the ability to wonder never dissipates in them. Or in me. I hope I always Wonder in a God who is very real and not much at all like the man in the red suit, except that his gift giving is limitless and ongoing and fascinating. I hope I always wonder at his Son who decided to live among us and die at our hands for us. I hope I always wonder at the miracle of life and relationships and redemption and reconciliation and prayer.
So yes. We believe. We believe in Santa. And we believe in fairies.
And we believe there is a God who moves mysteriously. We stop to wonder. We wonder at our kids. And the rain. And ladybugs who end up inside, somehow.
We wonder at miracles. At birth and death. We wonder at relationships. We believe that emotions and intellect are both important. We believe in mysticism and also really digging in deep to the Bible.
We wonder at a baby. Who left a throne to be born in a manger 2000 years ago. We wonder that he came to a world, who much like ours’ today was too crowded and busy to recognize him as God. We wonder that he chose a humble teenage virgin to be his mother and an earthly dad who thought about running away from it all but didn’t.
We wonder at salvation we don’t deserve.
So. Yes. I let my kids wonder at the real and the make believe.
Let us never cease it ourselves.