I do believe in Santa Claus.
I really do.
I have “Believe” signs sprinkled throughout my house, and while I’m sure they were intended to be Christmas decorations, I keep them up all year ’round because I think they have more meaning than just believing in Santa Claus.
While Christmas definitely is a religious holiday for us, and I am thrilled that my girls understand that the true meaning of Christmas is celebrating Jesus’ birthday, I personally find parallels between Santa Claus and Jesus.
Jesus wants us to take care of others, especially those less fortunate, to act without expecting anything in return, to be selfless. To give.
For our family at least, Santa Claus and Jesus don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Amidst all of our holiday merry-making, which has included many of our favorite holiday activities, including several nights of viewing Christmas lights,
baking lots and lots of goodies,
watching our favorite Christmas movies,
and even a wrapping extravaganza day,
I walked into a 9,000 square foot warehouse on December 13 that quite literally, was overflowing with wrapped Christmas presents. And what I saw was a generosity of spirit. A visual reminder of all that is good about Christmas.
I saw Santa.
I saw people who had given gifts out of the kindness of their hearts, with no expectation of anything in return.
And isn’t that the best kind?
Isn’t that what Santa does?
I went to the warehouse to volunteer. I discovered the Gingerbread House back in September when I was looking for a service project to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The Gingerbread House is part of the Youth and Family Project which serves Wisconsin families in Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha counties. The organization, which is dedicated to providing a variety of support, education and counseling services to help reunite families divided by crisis, really struck a chord with me because I think a strong family unit is so core to a child’s development (and ultimately what his/her future will look like).
This Christmas season the Gingerbread House will serve over 600 families. In chatting with the woman who began the project 20 years ago, for most families, the gifts they receive through the Gingerbread House *is* their Christmas. There won’t be any other gifts.
I was overwhelmed when I saw that in some families with three kids plus parents, there were 3-4 gifts for each person.
That is astounding.
At what other time of year do we see this kind of generosity?
Ironically, when I pulled names from the “giving tree” at our local YMCA I discovered the gifts were for people who had signed up through the Gingerbread House.
And the two boys asked for blankets, and an 11-year-old girl needed shirts. It was so humbling to me to see that these were truly needs, not wants. As I’m piling baby doll cribs, Dora toys and high end vacuum cleaners into my minivan, how could I not get blankets for a 7-year-old and a 15-year-old? How could I buy MORE clothes for my two girls who don’t need any more clothes, when there’s an 11-year-old who just needs some shirts?
Next year I’d like to do more. I’d like to be like the other families who have adopted an entire family and have provided each person 3-4 gifts. I can do better than blankets and shirts.
I think even Jesus would be happy to know that Santa inspires this kind of generosity in other people.
I believe in Santa Claus.
I believe in God and Jesus.
I believe in miracles.
I believe in the power of prayer.
I believe in people.
I believe in laughter and joy and positive thinking.
I believe in life.
All year ‘round, I believe.
And P.S. Who doesn’t love George and Mary? My most favorite Christmas movie, and maybe even one of my all-time faves. At any given point, we can all relate to George Bailey, but as he discovers, it really is a wonderful life.
And if you still don’t believe, there’s this — a mathematical equation that proves Santa is real.
What do you believe in and how will you be celebrating Christmas?
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” – Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991), Writer, Cartoonist, Animator