So here is a Christmas memory for you. In our house growing up, Santa not only brought, assembled, and wrapped all the presents. He also brought the tree and decorated it as a part of his Christmas Eve endeavors. I believed that until one year, when I was about 7. I noticed a cut, undecorated pine tree leaning up against the back of our house. When I asked my parents why it looked just like a Christmas tree, they informed me that Santa needed a little help that year. That was the beginning of the end of my belief in Santa. The final blow was the next year when I received the highly coveted Mr. Robot as a gift. It never did wind up and whistle properly, and I found it hard to believe that Santa would make something less than perfect.
I think Dad was beyond exhausted when he assembled it that year. And he and mom seemed relieved that I stopped believing. My mother did double duty at Christmas as the church organist. Given that our church had two services on Christmas Eve (one of that ended at midnight) she and Dad didn’t even get a start pulling off the Christmas magic until 1:00 AM on Christmas morning. It was a Christmas miracle of sorts, one that they’d pulled off for some 17 years.
It’s amazing what parents will do to bring joy and a sense of the mysterious to Christmas for the sake of their children. I wondered at one point in parenting if I might be doing serious damage to our children by playing along with the Santa thing, messing with their sense of trust in me as a parent. I am, after all, a Findlay. I come by guilt honestly.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand that the ability to accept things that don’t make logical sense opens us to the numinous and mysterious. Mary’s yes to an unexplainable pregnancy; the faith and love that kept Joseph faithful to the her and the child; the strangeness of giving birth in a stable; shepherds hearing angel choirs and believing their song; and crazy wise men following a star for hundreds of miles to see a baby; all of them trusted something beyond themselves, something inexplicable, something mysterious. I do, too. I hope you do as well.