Believe

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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.

Santa Claus is a legend that originated in the actions of a real person, Saint Nicholas, a Greek bishop who had a reputation for secret gift giving and to whom many miracles are attributed.

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,

Pere Marquette Park, Downtown Milwaukee.

Pere Marquette Park, Downtown Milwaukee.

baking lots and lots of goodies,

Mmmm. Christmas treats.

watching our favorite Christmas movies,

"A toast to my big brother George. The richest man in town."

and even a wrapping extravaganza day,

My wrapping station.

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.

Astoundingly generous.

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

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4 responses »

  1. Well, as I’ve mentioned before you don’t have gifts from Santa here. But I did really enjoy this blog post. I got this book from the library for Shelby this year and I really like it. Maybe you could read it to your girls when they are older and are in on the Santa secret. http://www.amazon.com/Santa-Are-Real-Harold-Myra/dp/0849914922

    I do think you can celebrate both Jesus’ birthday (the real reason for Christmas) and Santa at the same time. But here is something we included in our Christmas cards a few years ago that you might enjoy!

    Why Jesus is better than Santa Claus

    Santa lives at the North Pole …
    JESUS is everywhere.

    Santa rides in a sleigh …
    JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

    Santa comes but once a year …
    JESUS is an ever present help.

    Santa fills your stockings with goodies …
    JESUS supplies all your needs.

    Santa comes down your chimney uninvited …
    JESUS stands at your door and knocks,
    and then enters your heart when invited.

    You have to wait in line to see Santa …
    JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

    Santa lets you sit on his lap …
    JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

    Santa doesn’t know your name, all he can say is
    “Hi little boy or girl, what’s your name?” …
    JESUS knew our name before we were born…
    Not only does He know our name,
    He knows our address too.
    He knows our history and future and
    He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

    Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly …
    JESUS has a heart full of love.

    All Santa can offer is HO HO HO …
    JESUS offers health, help and hope.

    Santa says “You better not cry” …
    JESUS says “Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.”

    Santa’s little helpers make toys …
    JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts,
    repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

    Santa may make you chuckle but …
    JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

    While Santa puts gifts under your tree …
    JESUS became our gift and died on a tree….
    The cross.

  2. Great post! I believe so strongly in Santa as the spirit of Christmas. It’s not about all the presents, it’s about giving. I remember when our parents didn’t have money to do Christmas one year. We ranged in age from 4 to pre-teens and someone picked our name off of a giving tree. We received such great gifts that year all because of someone who felt the “spirit” of Christmas in their hearts and wanted to keep the tradition of Santa alive! We also believe in Jesus and absolutely celebrate his birth by singing “Happy Birthday” and eating birthday cake…just so we don’t forget the true meaning of Christmas. That being said, my logical husband goes on and on about how Jesus’ birthday isn’t really in December. No one really knows when his “real” birthday was, so we celebrate in December to honor another tradition. Christmas is about tradition, family, giving, and sharing. Those are traits that I hope to pass on to my own children when they are adults and celebrate Christmas 🙂

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