“The memory of that night would bring Santa Claus and Frosty and Rudolph – and all would be welcome. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby – that’s how Christmas began.
– Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
I was in the second grade when I stopped believing in Santa Claus.
I think I was seven, and it was that tender young age when kids begin trying to ruin the lives of their classmates by telling them “the truth about Santa.” I was horribly confused. I thought that they couldn’t possibly be telling the truth. I would ask my mom and she would sort things out for me.
For some reason, we went to Chick-fil-a after school that day. I don’t remember why, I just remember being in the car on the way there when I asked my mom about what I had heard. She tried very hard to reassure me and dance around it, but I was insistent. So, she finally asked me if I really wanted to know the truth. I said yes, emphatically. And she told me. We both cried.
I was devastated. I had lost a precious piece of the innocence of my childhood. I wanted so desperately to go to sleep on Christmas Eve knowing Santa would come during the night. I wanted to watch The Polar Express and know the magic I was seeing was true. I wanted it all back.
I remember I used to pray that I would forget that I knew the truth. In some strange state of denial, I would write Santa letters asking to please be able to see him, and each year I would receive a letter in return from the big man himself explaining why I couldn’t.
What I didn’t know at the time was that this pain I felt as a child would shape my view of the Christmas season for the better. To try to assuage my pain, my mom explained to me that Santa is really magic, the magic you feel during the Christmas season. She told me that was what I should believe in. I even have a decorative pillow that bears the word “believe” to prove it.
Believe. That’s such a simple word. We believe a lot of things. We believe the sky is blue, the grass is green, the sun will come up tomorrow, and the garbage will get picked up on a specific day. It almost seems to lose its meaning, or become ambiguous, because it means everything and nothing to us.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of believe is “to consider to be true or honest” or “to accept the word or evidence of.” Like I said, this can apply to a lot of things. Maybe everything. But what about the most important things?
Why do we have the legend or story or whatever you want to call it of Santa Claus anyway? I’m sure there’s a whole Wikipedia article discussing origins that we could all gain a lot of knowledge from, but I don’t think that matters. What’s the point of Santa Claus? He’s a happy man who delivers gifts to everyone…kind of like a happy Savior who delivers blessings to us. Why do we give gifts on Christmas? Because He is the ultimate gift. Why are we taught to believe? Because to believe in Him is the most important choice we will ever make.
“How is Christmas regarded today? The legend of Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the decorations of tinsel and mistletoe, and the giving of gifts all express to us the spirit of the day we celebrate; but the true spirit of Christmas lies much deeper than these. It is found in the life of the Savior, in the principles He taught, in His atoning sacrifice – which became our great heritage.
– President Howard W. Hunter
Do you consider Him to be true or honest? Do you accept the word or evidence of Him?
I feel like this year I have been more acutely aware of my blessings. I have looked under the tree at my family’s presents and thought of how blessed we are when there are so many people who just want to be warm, or fed, or maybe even in a country that isn’t torn apart by war.
You all know I have anxiety. Because of that, my brain likes to find stress in everything – in exams, in shopping, in the things I need to get done while I’m on break, in hitting my scripture reading goal for the year, in not being too lazy…you get it. But through it all, Jesus has been especially close to my mind and heart this season. At church on Sunday, the focus was obviously on Him even more than usual because of the time of year. But it wasn’t all about His birth. It was about His Atonement, His ultimate sacrifice that He made for us. I appreciated this so much. I’ve always felt like Easter gets pushed aside compared to Christmas, but it shouldn’t be that way. The entire reason that Jesus Christ came to this earth, came to be born in a stable, is so He could atone for our sins and understand our pain.
You guys. Do you get that? The Creator of the universe came to this earth in the most humble of circumstances so He could understand you and save you and love you forever. Think about what that says about you, and about your worth. He thought you were worth poverty, homelessness, persecution, agony, torture, and death. FOR YOU.
So put up your nativity and know that He came to be born into nothing for you. Open your presents knowing that no matter how great they are, they are nothing compared to Him. Thank your Father in Heaven for sending His perfect, precious Son to bless us all forever and ever.
Take the leap of faith and believe in Him. He is so worth it. I promise.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
– Isaiah 9:6