Santa and Magic and Holy Impossibilities

Every year the Santa stuff gets a little deeper for my kiddos.

Every year a part of me frets, worries… Feels… *guilty* for doing this part of Christmas.

I feel like I don’t do Christmas in a holy enough way. Or… I perhaps should ashamedly admit, that I feel like other people who don’t do Santa think that I’m not doing Christmas in a holy enough way.

You do Christmas your way. I’ll do Christmas my way. That’s kind of how I’ve decided to handle things. But I have to admit… The people-pleasing, ‘do it the right way,’ ‘Oh look what she is doing and her kids are turning out so nicely with such nice values and understanding of what is important’ comparisons that happen in my head niggle at me.

Maybe “Doing Santa” isn’t the holiest way to do things. Maybe I’m elevating the ‘secular celebration’ over the celebration of Jesus’ birthday.

I could make this a post about defending the way we do things. I could talk about St. Nicholas—the real, historical man who is at the root of our Santa traditions and who I find more honorable and holy the more I learn about him. We’ve taught the kids about him. We have emphasized that “Santa/St. Nick brings presents to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. He loved Jesus so much that he wanted to do good things in secret!”

But I don’t need to do that, nor am I very convincing at it when I try.

The thing is… The thing is…

Every year I come back to the fact that I can’t NOT do Santa with my kids, because I STILL so thoroughly believe in him! I still watch Mircale on 34th St. and get teary-eyed when little Susan finally believes. I still leave cookies out and help my kids draft notes to the jolly red guy (and sometimes his wife!).

And somehow that unflagging grasp on the magic of Santa in some way in my addled brain feels something akin to Holy.

It’s not just a belief in a jolly man clad in red flying around in a sled with toys….

It has more to do with my trying to keep a grip on goodness and giving and…. Well… Magic!

It’s that same little thing that catches in my heart when the snowflakes, big and full and white start falling on Christmas Eve, of all nights! It’s the pride that I feel when I see Marines in their dress uniforms collecting toys to create the magic for kids whose parents can’t afford the nuts and bolts pieces of that magic, but whose kids dream big just the same.

It’s so not about the stuff. It’s not about the toys or piles of presents or big fat stockings.

I still look up in the sky this time of year for the red dot of Rudolph’s nose flying through the air against the backdrop of a starry sky.

At the same time I still, in quiet moments at night this time of year, listen for the angels singing. I still see white, ceramic nativity scenes casting shadows on buildings behind them and thrill at the beauty of it. I still imagine Mary, great with child and the agony and confusion and sheer unbridled, bewildered joy she must have felt so long ago. I still imagine GOD encapsulated in the form of a helpless, mewling infant and gasp at the reality of it.

It’s all wrapped up in the same package for me. It’s this holy goodness. Beauty. Magic. Transcendence.

It’s anticipation and celebration of the greatest gift ever given to humanity. Jesus. Grace. God’s immense love not because we’re good, but because He’s God.

It’s almost 30 year old me checking the NORAD tracks Santa website every hour or so to see where Santa is and it’s glee and giddiness and a spirit of happy, expectant waiting.

And it’s goodness.

If there can be magic and playfulness and flying reindeer, and impossible things happening like a fat man going down chimneys, and flying around the world in a 24 hour time span…

Even more audacious—if God can come to earth for the purpose of saving us wrapped in a package that looks so much like the infant I am cradling this year. Completely helpless and as human and fleshy as she is.

Well then… That’s magic that can get me through things like weird tumors wreaking havoc in my life, the death of loved ones, the stress of time away from my husband when he serves our country, the news that rolls in day after day reminding me of the darkness that is ever-present and somehow seems to be ever-growing… It’s light in the darkness. And joy in the hardness. And a feeling of lightness in a world that is just too heavy.

I can’t defend the Santaness of it all. But I can tell you that this magic I feel every year, even in the darkest times seems to me to have something of the fabric of God in it. And THAT’S why I embrace it.

It’s me opening my heart and my life to the good and to believing in things that can’t be seen.

It’s a tenacious holding on to what seems to be impossible.

And it’s an invitation to holy wonder and to keeping my eyes open to the wonder that surrounds me each and every day, but especially on Christmas Eve.