During the Christmas season of 1984, my television debut was captured on camera by a local news station. As I confidently approached the jolly ol’ fellow in the big red suit, and climbed into his lap, he asked my name.
I cheerfully replied, “Jeeemy!” Sure, I had a little trouble with the enunciation of “r’s” as a newly minted 6 year old, but I was already on the list, right? Surely, he’d already checked it twice. He probably even knew if I’d been naughty or nice.
So when he replied by asking, “Jimmy?” – I was taken aback.
“No, Je-EH-mee!” I emphasized.
“Jimmy, have you been a good boy this year?” Santa replied.
When the footage aired on the 6 o’clock news the following evening, I was “Jimmy” to the metro Atlanta viewing audience. At least Santa gave my family the gift of laughter that Christmas, and for many years after.
Besides being unaware that he needed to personally partake in those peppermint candy canes he was peddling, he should have at least known my name. My mom excused his lapse of memory by explaining that Santa was very busy and probably just confused.
But in the years that followed, I grew more skeptical of the “magic.” I had more complex questions that were met with more elaborate explanations. My Mama worked hard to preserve the magic for me.
My suspicions ultimately culminated in a secret expedition I made to a dark corner of our basement. My cunning espionage skills led to the discovery of a treasure trove of gifts concealed underneath a giant picnic blanket. After carefully examining the items, I never spoke a word about it and patiently waited for Santa’s impending visit.
Low and behold, that Christmas morning, to what did my wondering eyes did appear, but all the exact same gifts that had been previously hidden away in our basement — “delivered by Santa from the North Pole.”
Just like that, the magic was gone.
I enjoy the tradition, the childhood memories and the nostalgia of playing Santa for our kids. It’s exciting and fun for our family. But this year, I’ve been saddened and disheartened to see that the joy and spirit of Christmas is being predicated with believing in Santa.
I’ve read many passionate viewpoints about the importance of preserving the illusion of Santa’s magic. And while I understand the desire behind protecting this “spirit” and “magic” for our kids, putting the emphasis and our hope into an imaginary character will only lead to despair and disappointment.
The true joy and spirit of Christmas is love. God demonstrated His unfailing love by giving us the greatest gift that has ever been given: Jesus – the only gift that will stand the test of time.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.Hebrews 13:8
Jesus is not fleeting, nor a magical illusion we have to contrive to maintain. Jesus never withers to skepticism and His love for each of us endures forever. If we choose to celebrate Christmas, we don’t have to give up Santa, or the presents, or any of the things we’ve come to enjoy during the season – but when we choose to elevate or emphasize anything else above the gift of the Savior, we’re depriving ourselves of an opportunity to celebrate and experience true joy, peace and love.
Jeremy. He knows my name. And He knows yours, too.