Well, we got our Christmas tree today, so I guess you can’t be too far behind. I’m excited about this Christmas, because we should have the whole family together for the first Christmas in a while. It will also be the first Christmas for my grandson Malachi and while at 3 months old, he won’t remember anything; he will certainly make us smile.
Santa, you’re probably surprised I’m writing, I know it’s been a while. Funny how life runs in cycles; every day is new, but also the same. As a kid, how I looked forward to Christmas: presents under the tree, time off from school, anticipation, new toys…it was a magical time! As a young man when my parents separated, Christmas became a time of sadness. Fortunately, in 1988, God sent me Elizabeth for Christmas. We spent the next 7 Christmas’s bouncing between 3 families, trying to keep traditions alive. In 1996 Sam was born, and Christmas changed again. We started adding our own traditions; it wasn’t long before Christmas was magical again. Except this time, I wasn’t looking under the tree for presents, but I did have that anticipation of watching Sam, Mac, Scotty & Ryan’s excitement & joy.
As our kids were growing up, we added new traditions, most intended to point them to Jesus—the One true gift of Christmas. For years we hosted an Angel Tree style party for the Salvation Army, a few elementary schools, and a family aid organization. Some years we would take the kids to deliver presents to families at their homes; other years we unloaded the presents at a drop off location. Another fun tradition we had while they were growing up was Christmas Eve service at 11pm. Each year I would carry a sleeping kid (in his pajamas) out to the car at midnight. Then there was Christmas movie night, cookies, and milk on the hearth, telling silly Christmas stories, Oyster stew, and the list goes on.
You know Santa, I haven’t written you a letter since second grade, when Joe’s dad with his big white beard dressed up like you. People say you’re not real, and while I don’t believe in some chubby, jolly guy living at the North Pole, I do believe God uses you, the reindeers, presents and all of Christmas traditions to give us magical moments.
Unfortunately, we don’t always get it right. Sometimes we focus too much on presents and stuff; sometimes we get so busy with traditions that we miss God and the gift of His Son. But God is still working, still moving. Growing up we missed it. We had Santa. We had presents. We had traditions. Christmas was magical; but we didn’t have Jesus. Looking back, I can see that God was at work in my life even when I didn’t know Him. Those magical Christmas moments gave me a glimpse of God’s goodness. It was obvious with my parents’ divorce looming that Christmas magic had come to an end, but I wanted more; not more stuff, but more of that feeling.
It wasn’t overnight and there were no lightning bolts, but over the next 8 years God opened my eyes. No, my life hasn’t been all magical moments since then. Actually, I have been through some of the most painful times of my life over the past 4 years, but what I have found is that I have HOPE. It doesn’t mean the pain isn’t real or that I don’t cry and get discouraged, but it does mean I know God’s promises are true and there will be no more tears in heaven.
Santa, it’s a messy world we live in, I think we all could use some more of those magical Christmas moments. Rub a reindeer for me and get out there and make someone smile.
For anyone else reading, I wish you a Merry Christmas. I know all too well that this time of year can be filled with pain, if that’s where you find yourself, know that I am praying for you and would love to hear from you. If you find yourself in a magical season this Christmas, then I rejoice for you and pray that you recognize God’s love for you. If you are like me and find yourself in between with some magic and some pain, I pray that you will trust God, and that you will give yourself permission to enjoy the magical times.
Although it isn’t feasible to invite all of our friends and family to our home at one time, we would still love to see each of you! Whether we know you through business or other walks of life, we would love for you and your family to join us on Wednesday, December 14 from 4 – 7 p.m. at Green Valley. We will enjoy delicious food and hopefully capture some of those Magical Moments. Please RSVP by December 11 (so we have enough food!).
Meanwhile, rub your dog (or cat if you must), and get out there and make someone smile. You can help make this a magical Christmas for someone.