The Real Spirit of Christmas Resides in the Heart

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As a parent, I was a reluctant Santa. Lying to my children didn’t set well with me; but like everyone else, I got caught up in the pressures of tradition and commercialism. The excitement in their eyes also prevented me from “leveling” with them about Santa.

But still I wanted them to know why we celebrated Christmas in the first place. When we put the tiny crèche beneath the tree, I wanted them to understand that Christmas was a celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

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The packages, the wish lists, the goodies and fun seemed to overshadow the sacredness and meaning of why we commemorate the birth of the Savior at Christmas time. On the cross, Jesus gave up His life to give us the gift of salvation. His sacrifice inspired our practice of the giving of gifts. But it didn’t take long for the secular world to introduce a giving Santa to blur the lines between Biblical truths and worldly pleasures, between wants and needs.

Our family did have our “reading of the Word” on Christmas Eve. After dinner, we’d don our bathrobes and towel turbans to re-create the birth of the Savior in a stable in Bethlehem. But still, it seemed like we were merely slowing down the momentum and anticipation of the morning ahead.

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I remember as a child when I first doubted the existence of Santa. I was about five or six years of age at the time. My gut instincts told me my parents were not being honest with me, and that they were trying to fool me into believing.

I was so determined to prove I was right that I went on a hunt to unearth the truth.  Lo and behold, I opened a bottom drawer in my parent’s bedroom chest and there it was — the proof. Fabric and lace that had been turned into a dress for my new baby doll seemed to taunt me. As did flannel scraps, neatly folded, that looked just like my new doll’s pajamas.

My guilty heart reminded me that my mother had lovingly made these clothes on her sewing machine, staying up late at night to keep me from finding out. It was all there; evidence that there was no Santa!

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Now the tables were turned. As a mother, I worried that my own children’s discoveries would turn me into a liar before their eyes. Even though I felt guilty, I still tried to turn our Christmas festivities into simple fun, all the while worrying that my children would forget the true meaning of what for us was a sacred observance.

In spite of me, each of them in their own way discovered the truth. I saw the disappointment in their eyes one by one over the years. I knew the excitement had worn off when they slept a little later on Christmas morning and slowly opened the gifts marked “from Santa.”

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The wonder no longer sparkled in their eyes. Their new-found maturity forced them to confront reality. They held their peace and played the game with their younger brothers and sisters. But we and they knew that something precious had been lost.

When breakfast was on the table, the joy returned as we munched our traditional home-made doughnuts and drank our fresh-made eggnog. It was then I knew that the traditions which bound us together would last forever, long after they had left home.

The magic of Christmas is held in our hearts. The gifts we give each other have deeper meaning as the years pass. Surprising others with something we purchase or make gives us a deeper understanding of what it means to “give of self.” Maturity brings selfish wants to a higher level of making others happy for the sheer joy of seeing their reaction.

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However you celebrate Christmas, lasting happiness comes from remembering the good times and sharing your love with others. Knowing that a Savior has come to the earth to save us from ourselves is the icing on the cake. Merry Christmas everyone!

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