Celebrate Christmas Like a Child
“How many more days until Christmas?!” Everyday it is the same question from my little people. But who am I to complain? This time of year has always been magical for me. My daddy and I are both idealists and we both love Christmas and dreaming up all that it can be. Growing up, the season was full of massive train sets, Griswold Family-sized Christmas trees and finding the perfect surprises for Christmas morning. The moment we cleared the table of turkey and pumpkin pie, I would turn on White Christmas and the countdown would begin.
I was also that kid who defied all those who denied their faith in Santa. I was the ripe old age of 11 when I finally began to concede that he wasn’t real after all. I will never forget the day it happened. I had received a pogo stick and a pair of stilts from that Jolly Ol’ Man. I was bouncing and balancing on the driveway. My parents had conferenced and felt that it was time I knew the truth. My best friend and I had battled whether or not he was real and finally agreed to disagree. How mature of us. However, I still held a firm belief in the impossible. My dad met me on the sidewalk. I’m sure he had some tool in his hand as he was always putting toys together or fixing something on Christmas Day. He told me we needed to talk about Santa. I don’t remember the words he said but I do remember the blow I felt as they landed on my ears and made their way to my heart. No Santa?! But if there was no Santa, why was Christmas so magical? With some dramatic flair, I turned and ran to my mama, tears streaming, leaving a devastated and broken-hearted daddy in my wake.
I remember her wiping my tears. She used words about Saint Nicholas and the “idea of Santa” being real, soothing my aching soul with the softness in her voice. I still didn’t understand and the pain of growing up was quite present. As much as it hurt, it was the right thing for my parents to do. This act of love, that undoubtedly hurt their hearts more than mine, was precisely what would make room for God to capture my heart and reignite my childlike delight in Christmas for the rest of my days.
In the gospel of Mark, chapters 9 and 10, Jesus says something very interesting to His disciples. This band of brothers had been arguing about who might be the greatest among them. Just like immature children, they think Jesus doesn’t know what they’ve been discussing. However, as a wise and loving good teacher, He calls them over to give them a lesson in true greatness.
“And he sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last all and servant of all.’ Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives on of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
In the midst of their brutish and childish arguments, Jesus was displaying the need for child-likeness to be present in their hearts if they would ever truly grasp the Kingdom of God.
Maybe it was childish for me to believe in Santa for so long, but it was not wasted as the child-like qualities of dependence, trust, and faith in the miraculous were being fostered. Christmas gives us the opportunity to possibly recall or remember these qualities so active in our lives at one time. For some of us, tragedy, hardship or abuse may have snuffed out the opportunity to have ever experienced such feelings. Yet, even then, Christmas can be a season for God to bring redemption and healing to such stories as we observe the children around us.
Filled with anticipation, children approach Christmas with hope, longing and expectation. They count down the days, delighting as we get closer to the glow of Christmas morning. As an adult, able to comprehend the magnitude of the celebration and remember or observe the unique feelings of awe and wonder of child, we are granted the greatest gift when we allow the two perspectives to join together.
Oh may we heed Jesus’ teaching. In the quiet spaces we find as Christmas Day approaches, may we become like little children. May we seek Him with awe, wonder, anticipation and dependence. May we ask Him for what we need and our hearts desires. May we trust Him to work our stories out for our good and His glory. May we even picture ourselves climbing up in His lap as He calls us His own.
P.S. Today I am singing Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, written by Charles Wesley performed by Christy Nockels. You can listen to it on my She Sings Along with Advent playlist on Spotify.