Merry Christmas Eve!

December 25, 2006

Riding home from my sister-in-law’s house after one family Christmas celebration, my son cuddled up next to me on the van seat. While I leaned my head atop of his head, I realized that perhaps Christmas will never again be exactly this kind of magic for our family. We never really intended for the kids to believe in Santa, but despite our talks about the historical St. Nick and the fun of pretending, they want to believe. And so they do. A plane flew overhead and Abby pointed it out to Dan and said, “I think that’s Rudolph.”

“Oh no, honey,” I said. “I’m pretty sure that’s just a plane.”

“No, Dan, it’s Rudolph,” Abby assured, with all of the natural authority imbued in the eight year old older sister.

“Bye Rudolph!” Dan called, choosing to believe.

Sure, I worry a bit about their coming down from belief like this. I don’t ever want them to feel like we lied. But at the same time, this magic — this joy — is something to behold. And they all get that Christmas is all about Jesus’ birthday, more than it is about lights or presents or even Santa.

The excitement in our house this evening crackles like a warm fire. My children are so blessed and probably not nearly aware enough of their blessings (are any of us, though?). How can they completely intuit that this holiday isn’t about presents when Mom spends time asking what they each desire and then shopping a whole lot? I suppose that like the Santa issue, we’ve sent them mixed messages. We tell them it’s better to give than to receive. And then? We — Tim and I, their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, their friends — make sure they receive a whole lot by the time it’s all put together.

But maybe, fundamentally, Christmas is about receiving. For we must truly receive Jesus on Christmas morning and on every other day of the year as well. In fact, we’re desperate to receive if we’re honest with ourselves. If we really grasped the height and depth and breadth of God’s love for us, maybe we would go to bed each night, too excited to sleep, anticipating the good gifts He has in store the next day.

I don’t have a consistent theology here or even all the thoughts worked out in my own mind. But I know this: my children’s happiness spreads throughout this house like the best home-baked bread in the world. And there’s something holy in the purity of their joy that transcends the material stuff they get and speaks to the expectancy of awaiting our Savior.

By next Christmas I would guess that Santa may not be so foregrounded in my children’s Christmas. That particular piece of the holiday may be less shiny and full of wonder. So I pray that the real magic of Jesus shows itself all the more clearly to them tomorrow and in the coming year.


7 Responses to “Merry Christmas Eve!”

  1. Okay, I’ve read this three times, and I still can’t figure it out. Was it really Santa, or was it just a plane?

  2. Beth Koruna said

    Oh John….ask Abby!

  3. Erica said

    Oh, John!
    It was SANTA!
    Your sons are wrong, Santa exists. I’m very sorry for them that you’ve deluded them so, so long.

    I believed in Santa. And it wasn’t horrible to learn I had been naive as I grew up. I still learn how naive I am weekly, so it’s just become a part of life.

  4. John McCollum said

    Um, but he doesn’t. Really. Discuss this later…

  5. Beth Koruna said

    La la la (hands over ears)! I’m not listening to you, John.

  6. Annette Vasulka said


    And I let you drive my kid to school?

  7. Beth Koruna said

    More fool you, Annette! :D:D

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