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The Spirit of Santa Claus (a personal reflection)


When I was a little girl, I remember the excitement and anticipation of Santa Claus. My parents made me go to bed so that Santa Claus would come. I just could not fall asleep because I was soooo excited. I would lay there, listening to see if I could hear reindeer on the roof or any sound from the living room. I would fight sleep, trying to stay alert. I would yearn for this to be the year that I would reeeally hear it. My ears would stay focused on every sound I heard, knowing for certain that it was going to happen, but not knowing for certain if I would hear it.

And when I thought I might have heard what could have been Santa, I drifted off into a light sleep. Then, at approximately 3 a.m., either my brother or I would wake each other up. We were prepared with our flashlights and quietly took off for the living room. Oh, we had strict instructions from Mom and Dad not to wake them until 6 a.m., so we had to be as quiet as we could be and could not turn on any lights. Just as we had predicted, there around the Christmas tree was a pile of presents. Oh, Wow! Santa had been in our living room! We carefully inspected every gift to see whose name was on it and began whispering about what might be inside each gift. Now it was 3:30 a.m. and we still had two and a half hours to wait until we could wake Mom and Dad.

We would lie down on the carpet and wait. Oh, now the anticipation of opening the presents was almost unbearable! I can still hear the pendulum clock on the wall ticking away. Tick Tock, Tick Tock...I remember the silence surrounded by ticking soooo well. How could we ever wait that long?

With 6 a.m. nearing, my brother and I would begin to argue about who was going to wake our Mom and Dad. I suppose we were afraid to wake our parents because we had already tried it in years past. Would 6 a.m. really be okay? So, carefully, with one of us on one side of the bed, and the other on the other side, we would simultaneously peck on their shoulders and whisper that Santa had arrived. My brother and I were off to the living room to turn on the Christmas tree lights. I loved watching those lights and trying to follow the flashing patterns. It was mesmerizing, just like watching the flames of a fire. Again, we waited for what seemed forever until Mom and Dad got dressed and came to the living room.

Years later, I experienced this eager anticipation through my sister's eyes. My brother was 2 1/2 years older than I; my sister was 6 years younger than I. So by the time she was old enough to understand the concept of Santa, I already knew the truth. But I so much wanted her to have the same fun as my brother and I did, and I was determined to make sure she did. I remember she couldn't stand waiting alone in her own bed and would come climb into mine. It was so sweet snuggling with my sister, sharing in her anticipation, and listening attentively to her wonder if she had heard Santa. Oh yes, an extraordinary event was going to happen that night on our roof and she was alert for the anticipated arrival! I, of course, had trouble staying awake as long as her.

Still even years later, I am experiencing this eager anticipation through my sons' eyes. When they were younger, my husband and I would do as my parents and make them go to bed so Santa would come. I always longed for them to come pecking on my shoulders to awake me, but they never did. We always had to wake them. I believe they inherited my husband's sleepy genes.

Now that my sons are teenagers and know the Santa truth, I am experiencing that eager anticipation through their eyes in a different way. Each day when they come home from school, Santa will have delivered another package. On each package is written a clue as to its contents. These clues drive them crazy! I certainly know how it feels to wait two and half hours to open my gifts, which makes it is sooo much fun for me to share in my sons' anguish, guessing, and anticipation.

My young sons would always ask me if I believed in Santa Claus. They know their Mom never lies and trusted in her answer. My answer to them was always, "Yes, I believe in the Spirit of Santa Claus" (which kept them believing for a long time!).

I still and always will believe in the Spirit of Santa Claus. The Spirit of Santa Claus is that eager anticipation of promised gifts. It is that same anxious anticipation of a promised gift that we have in Jesus Christ. The same life, vitality, and energy that we feel when we know Santa is coming is the same we should feel when we know Christ is coming.

The Spirit of Santa Claus is also the warmth of love that we feel as we open our gifts or as we watch others open the gifts we so lovingly selected and purchased for them. This warmth of love is the same love that we feel when we acknowledge the loving gift of Jesus Christ that was given to us in a manger in a stable in Bethlehem. The greatest gift of all is where all love begins.

If I could only recapture that same eager anticipation that I had when I was a little girl waiting for Santa as when I anticipate the coming of Christ. I know for certain what is going to happen, but do I stay alert constantly and yearn that this will be the time when I will reeeally see it. Do I stay focused on the anticipated arrival? Am I prepared with (Jesus') light to see it? Isn't this what Advent is supposed to feel like? Sadly, I don't think I have the same feelings for Christ as I did as a little girl for Santa, at least not to the same degree.

Actually, as I reflect on that little girl sense of anticipation, I cannot imagine another time in my life when I have ever felt that level of anticipation a second time. Some instances have been close, like my wedding day and the birth of my sons, but none as exciting as the Spirit of Santa Claus.

Christ is coming again, I know. I should find it fun and exciting anticipating this extraordinary event? We are promised gifts of love, peace, kindness, healing, and eternal life. We know our gifts are coming. I should be eager to open them. I am eager to open them, but sadly not as eager as I was as a little girl to open the gifts which Santa had brought.

Advent is the season for anticipating the coming of Christ, his first coming as we celebrate on Christmas Eve, and his second coming at a time we do not know. For me, Advent is a time to remember and reflect upon the Spirit of Santa Claus and attempt to convey that same spirit, life, excitement, yearning, alertness, focus, and anticipation to the comings of Christ. How do I attain that child-like faith? How about you? Where are you at in your walk with Christ?

Here are some Bible verses that are fitting for my story:

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. (Matthew 24:42)

"Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come." (Matthew 13:33)

"My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you." (Isaiah 26:9)

"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19

"Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:2

P.S. As I wrote this I thought about my parents. How did they ever pull it off! We sure were hard on them! Did they ever get any sleep!

By Cheryl
Advent 2010

Copyright Cheryl Rutledge-Brennecke
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