December I watched The Polar Express, a movie about a young
boy who rediscovers "the magic of Christmas" by rekindling his
belief in Santa Claus. In a climactic moment, the boy, who can
see Santa's sleigh bells but cannot hear their joyful music, closes
his eyes and softly repeats the words, "I believe, I believe,
I believe!" Santa then gives him a sleigh bell to keep
as a reminder that as long as he believes in Santa, the music
of Christmas will ring in his heart.
Very touching, but it "rang false" with
me. You see, I never believed in Santa Claus. Actually, I've been
told that I used to shout, "There's Dumb-Dumb!" whenever I'd see
a department store Santa at the mall.
My parents decided not to pass on the
charming tradition (or lie, depending on how you look at it) to
me, and looking back on their decision I find that I was not robbed
of any of the "magic of Christmas" by only celebrating it as Jesus'
I, as a parent, also decided not to teach
my children that Santa Claus is real. This has led to some embarrassing
moments, as their preschool tendency was to loudly announce, "Eww,
Mommy, look--there's a Santa over there!" in a tone of
Once at the checkout line of a toy store
an employee in a furry red and white hat casually asked my son,
Joel, "So, have you been good in the store today?"
"I think so," he responded.
"Well," the cashier continued, "I know
Santa Claus, so I always tell him which kids are good and which
I watched Joel with a glazed smile to
see what his response to this information would be. I hoped he
would not contradict her statement too loudly, as the store
was crowded with parents and children who might not appreciate
did not say anything.
I breathed a relieved sigh, but as the
lady continued to ring up our purchases, she turned to Joel again,
and asked, "So, what is your name?"
"Joel," he answered.
"Ok, Joel," she said, "I'll be sure to
tell Santa that you were good today."
Once again, I held my breath for his response.
"…and that's my sister, Holly,
over there," he said, gesturing in her direction.
In the car, I asked Joel, "How come instead
of telling her that you don't believe in Santa, you made sure
she had Holly's name, too?"
"I'm not sure," he replied.
"Did you want to have your bases covered,
just in case Mommy and Daddy are wrong, and there really is
"Uh-huh," Joel answered.
I think we often believe God just like
Joel believed his dad and I, but still wanted to have his bases
covered, just in case. Maybe sometimes we hesitate to put
too much faith in God, because it makes us look silly in the eyes
of a world that prizes human logic and understanding above anything
For example, many local ministers were
recently quoted in our newspaper as saying that the biblical account
of creation is not true--some said it was figurative, outdated,
or penned by men who were uneducated by today's standards. They
said that God did "create" the world--through the process
of evolution! Talk about having it both ways!
Our faith, all of it, belongs in
Jesus Christ, the living Word. He is the music; He is the
magic; He is the truth of Christmas.
"Lord, I believe…I believe!"