Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’”
Luke 2: 10, 11 (NIV)
So when did you stop believing?
That reality check hit me again the other day as I was putting our youngest granddaughter Ellie Kate to bed. She loves to stay with us. As she was drifting off to sleep looking at the lighted Christmas tree and manger scene at the base of the tree in the room in our home which is set aside for her and her sister, Ellie Kate’s eyes fell again on the plastic lighted Santa that still shines for her and her sister, Hannah, as it did for her Daddy over forty years ago.
As that precious seven-year-old girl lay there, taking in the scene before her, she caught me by surprise when she asked:
“Gran, is there really a Santa Claus?”
I’ve had some time through the years since her Daddy, our Son, Nathan, was born to reflect on that. And so I paused for a moment, and then honestly answered her that I will always believe that there is.
When did Santa Claus become simply a figment of your childhood imagination, finally unmasked as a hoax perpetrated on you by your parents, grandparents and the rest of our civilized world? For most of us it was some insensitive know-it-all elementary school classmate whose own bubble had been burst and they were bound and determined to share their new-found disappointment with as many as possible before another Christmas day arrived.
There is no Santa Claus! At some tender age the innocence of the possible became the cold hard reality of the impossible.
I figure this is as good a season as any for true confessions, so here it is. In a time long ago, and in the spirit of continuing to develop his character and establish a relationship of trust and truth-telling in his little heart, I told our Son what I had been told as a child. I wanted him to be able to say that I had always told him the truth, about everything. I couldn’t “lie” to him about this “make-believe wonder” anymore.
You guessed it. And so I told my son at his tender young age that there was no Santa Claus. I didn’t want to wait for some irreverent little urchin to break his heart which was full of wonder. I broke it instead. Oh, we still pretended, and still set out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve and wrote Santa a note. But after that he sadly accepted that the sounds he heard on Christmas Eve were probably just tree limbs blowing in the wind, instead of Santa’s sleigh and eight tiny reindeer sliding to a screeching halt on roof-tops all around the neighborhood. For the record, I should tell you that his Mother didn’t agree with my approach to this child-rearing moment.
That moment—the “truth” about Santa Claus—was just another example of a long litany of reality checks which the self-proclaimed learned, wise and the mature among us impose on the idealistic spirit God created within each of us that urges us, drives us, to believe in the “possibility of the impossible.” I suppose it begins to happen also when we lose the game we should have won, or when someone we trusted hurts us, or a teacher labels us as a low achiever, or a parent calls us a name we hadn’t heard before, maybe someone’s tone of voice tells us we weren’t as important as we thought. And sadly, so sadly, we allow those to begin to define our future.
The problem, as I learned much later when I was watching the two movies, Santa Clause and Santa Clause II with and through the eyes of my elder granddaughter Hannah, is this—I really don’t know whether there is a Santa Claus or not. I really don’t know the answer to Ellie Kate’s question—“Gran is there really a Santa Claus?” How do I know there is no Santa Claus? Just because I haven’t seen him? How do I know there is no North Pole? Just because I haven’t been there? How do I know there are no elves? Just because I haven’t tasted their hot chocolate?
And while I’m on that, how do we know that elephants can’t fly or animals can’t talk? Just because we haven’t seen it or heard it happen? How do we know we’ll fail again, if we don’t pick ourselves up and try? How do we know a relationship won’t work, if we don’t take the first step to see if it will? How do we know a friend won’t be healed or feel better about themselves, if we don’t reach out to touch them in their moment of need? And how do we know we can’t achieve what we dream, to reach for and perhaps even touch the stars, if we don’t try, if we don’t reach beyond where we are?
Yet we’ll sit on an airplane trusting it will go up and then come down safely. We’ll wait each morning fully expecting the sun to rise. We know it will rain some days, and some days it won’t, no matter what the local meteorologist says. And we all remember those inexplicable moments of joy in our lives, those moments of “coincidence” we couldn’t explain, when our fondest wishes came true. Those times when what we thought was impossible, became possible, right before our eyes.
That moment of so long ago with my son, Nathan, and other similar moments since then, have borne much fruit, for he is now a trustworthy man of honor and integrity. Yet I’ll bet that somewhere within that strong and gentle heart of his, there remains a place which every year begins to bubble, like his daughters’, with an excited expectation that this may be the year he sees him, with all the splendor of his sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
What about you? Believing in the wonder, majesty and possibility of the impossible.
It’s the very least we can do for ourselves, for our futures, and for the One Who created it all, and whose birth we will celebrate again in just a few short weeks. It’s that birth—documented and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt—and the Hope that He brought into the world that day which inspires and encourages us to believe in the wonder, the majesty and the possibility—of the impossible. To see beyond where our eyes can see and where our ears can hear, and on and on as far as our hearts will carry us.
Now that’s the truth, and a belief with endless and eternal possibilities.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2011. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.