Santa and I have had an on again, off again relationship most of my life. More off than on, really. I don’t have any ill feelings toward the jolly old elf, but I was never enamored with him like some kids are.
While growing up, my parents always taught us that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday and that’s why we celebrate. I never once felt like I missed out by not being fed the whole Santa Claus story. I still got gifts, but they were from people I loved like my parents, siblings, and grandparents. To me, that was more special than getting them from someone I didn’t know who dressed in a funny red suit. Besides, the wise men gave gifts to the Christ-child, (though experts say it may have been up to a few years later) so I’m okay with giving and receiving gifts at Christmas.
I never had to go through the trauma of learning that Santa wasn’t real. I’d never believed in him to begin with. It wasn’t that my parents bad-mouthed the guy or said we couldn’t believe in him. It just wasn’t our focus. He was just another decoration, like Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph. Jesus was the real deal and our attention was on Him.
As a child, I loved babies. I loved the Bible story of baby Moses being hidden in the reeds and guarded by his big sister, Miriam. My love of babies also extended to the baby Jesus figurine in our nativity set. He was so cute! I loved him before I understood the significance of who He was.
And maybe that’s the point. Decorations like the nativity scene silently point families to Jesus, the reason for our Christmas celebration. They cultivate something deep in a child (and adults!) that gives them hope. This hope isn’t just for Christmas morning like the kind Santa offers. It’s hope that lasts through all of life and its crazy ups and downs. It hands out love like the gift it is, wrapped in a swaddling cloth, lying in a manger.
Santa is jolly, Jesus is joy. Santa is temporary, Jesus is forever. Santa keeps a list of our wrongs, Jesus wiped them away on the cross. Santa rides in a reindeer-pulled sleigh, Jesus will one day return on a cloud, no vehicle required.
So Santa and me? I’m so over him. But Jesus and me? Yeah. We’re a forever thing.
Where do things stand between you and Santa? More importantly, where do things stand with you and Jesus?