Happy birthday, Jesus!

Santa Claus presenting himself before the Christ is still my favorite image of Santa.

Christmas Day was always a birthday celebration for my family. It was the day my musical grandmother, Candy Valle, was born. As the family sat down for our very festive Christmas breakfast every year, a prayer thanking God for His Son was always followed with a Happy Birthday for Mima.

My magical childhood had to grow up eventually, and my child’s mind had a hard time separating reality from make believe.

Eventually, my mother sat me down to have that very important conversation as I was writing my latest letter to Santa.

You see, the time for being a child was almost over for me. I was about to start my first Confirmation preparation classes, and I could not continue believing in childish things. I had to be told ‘the truth‘.

The conversation went something like this … There is no Santa Claus.

I sobbed as if someone I loved very much had died. Because, really, that’s how I felt. How could Santa not be real?

Over time, and with my mom’s help, I grew up in my understanding of Christmas and how it is about more than toys and reindeer and Christmas birthdays:

  • Santa Claus was real at one time.
  • He believed in the same God I believe in.
  • He lived a life honoring the same Jesus, I knew.
  • He made a difference in the lives of some children.

Over the years, a belief grew in me based on the legends I had learned. Santa was not like the stories on TV, but he is not dead. And when I was an editor at the Jackson Sun newspaper, the Christmas tradition was the “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” article.

He comes to life in each of us when we do the things Santa did.

That realization kept Santa in my heart as I had kids of my own. What I tried to teach my sons is that we could be Santa, too, when we are kind and caring and generous. And, by being those things, Santa is still alive.

Then one Christmas Eve, I brought my sons to a service at my mom’s church. Part of this unique presentation included a Santa character. When Santa  knelt before the Christ child, I cried.

They were tears of an unimaginable joy that I associated with the idea of a Real Santa Claus and a real God.

And that’s when I understood my despair when I first heard that sad “truth” about Santa. You see, at ten years old, when Reality killed Santa, in my mind, they were trying to kill everything I believed in. The love I had for Santa was the same love I have for God and for Jesus.

And, as I’ve believed since I was little, Santa is in all of us, if we choose to Believe in Him.

After all, “if you see it in the Sun, it’s so.”

Merry Christmas, my friends, and may the love of God live in you and with you, today and always.


The Dragonfly’s Student



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