Why I Believe in Santa Claus

The Other 6
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Hi. My name is Sam. I’m 33 years old . . . and I believe in Santa Claus.

My brother and I discovered at a young age that my parents were the ones who “squeezed their way down our chimney” after we found a plethora of gifts hidden in the back of our 1971 blue Dodge van parked in the garage. It seemed as though “Santa” had arrived three weeks early and forgotten to lock the van doors.

As I said, I’m 33 years old, and for the first time in my life I’m starting to believe in Santa. Well, let me put it this way: I’m open to the possibility that Santa could exist. What is becoming increasingly important to me is not whether he actually exists, but the openness, imagination, willingness, and playful curiosity needed to believe in Santa.

I’m starting to think that a similar openness, imagination, and willingness help me to believe in Jesus.

My faith in Jesus seems just as bizarre as anything having to do with the Santa story.

“But Jesus really lives!” you might protest. “And Santa is just made up—at least the version most of us know.” That’s true. But when I think about it, my faith in Jesus seems just as bizarre as anything having to do with the Santa story.

Think about it: flying reindeer, a glowing red nose, a magic workshop, elves, a bottomless bag of toys, and a visit to every home on one night is just as weird as a crowd of 5,000 fed with barely anything, walking on water, money in the mouths of fish, voices from heaven, angel visitations, a virgin birth, a transfiguration, rising from the dead, magically appearing behind closed doors, and mind reading.

Having believed in Jesus for as long as I can remember, it’s easy for me to forget what Christianity may look like from the outside. Imagine if you heard the stories of Jesus for the very first time—what would you think?

In a culture that’s no longer steeped in the stories of the Bible, it’s good for us to remember that when we invite people to believe in Jesus, we are essentially inviting them to believe in an enchanted universe in stark contrast to the materialistic worldview that says “What you see is all there is.”

Christians postulate that the material is not the whole story. Instead, we assert that reality is infused with mystery, glory, spirit, paradox, truth, and invisible forces. Faith is about helping people cultivate the openness to believe in realities not seen.

One of my seminary professors talked about cultivating certain “capacities.” As we mature, these capacities need to grow and expand. One of the key capacities we can nurture and deepen is our capacity to imagine. In a culture that wants to do our imagining for us—asking us to passively absorb an overabundance of images—we need to be intentional about cultivating a healthy, vibrant imagination.

A healthy, vibrant adult imagination has a childlike capacity to hold the possibility that maybe—just maybe—Santa does exist.

Children seem to have no problem imagining that dragons, fairies, monsters, and unicorns exist. Sometimes it can even be difficult for them when someone “older and wiser” comes along and dismantles their belief in an enchanted universe.

This dismantling sometimes begins when an adult tells a young child for the first time that Santa does not exist. Yes, I admit, some of that needs to happen; we need to move beyond naïve, immature faith. But as we grow in Christ, we also need an expanded capacity to remember, imagine, and believe.

So if a child asks you this Christmas whether Santa exists, with a twinkle in your eyes try responding something like this: “I don’t know . . . but he could . . . he very well could.”

Hi, my name is Sam. I’m 33 years old . . . and I believe in Jesus.

About the Author

Sam Gutierrez is ministry director to students at the University of British Columbia—Okanagan. He attends the Well Church, a Christian Reformed church plant in Kelowna.

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Comments

Hi Sam - I read your recent article in The Banner with interest. We are a CRC home and have tried to balance the "myths" with the Truth. We do have the Tooth Fairy in our home (kids know he is a boy, Dad!). We do hunt for Easter Eggs in the Spring. Recently, I asked my 7 year old if she knew who "Santa" is and she said, to quote, "he is a nice old man who brings gifts to poor kids". This definition is probably closer to the truth than what the media would have us believe. I then asked her if we were poor and she said "oh no! Santa will take care of the kids who need it". A nice way to incorporate the secular portion of this world but give my kids a different perspective to consider. Hope all is well in B.C. Visited Maple Ridge a few times. I think that Bouchard Gardens is probably one of the most beautiful places on this great Earth!!

I have to agree with all the letters to the editor in the December issue of The Banner. "Man made global warming" is a farce. If it is not, why have the proponants of it renamed it "climate change"?. That is what the liberal media is so adept at, renaming and relabling. However, given the liberal bias of The Banner, I am not the least bit surprised that you included this article in your publication. I'm pretty close to joining William from New Mexico in cancelling our subscription.

Sam, Child like faith? - Yes I agree. Do Bible stories sound like an "enchanted universe" to present day American culture? - Again I agree (1 Corinthians 1:18). But the comparison of being open to the possibility of Santa Claus and Jesus is confusing at best. Thank you for reminding us how we might sound to unbelievers, and to remain childlike in our faith. But let us work together to present the mountains of evidence that show the Bible stories for what they are - facts worth betting your life on.
Regards
Dirk

Dear Sam,
Thank you for your article "Why I Believe in Santa Claus". My husband and I have five children 16 years apart. It has been tradition in our home to hang stockings on Christmas Eve. When our 4 boys were young they wanted to believe in Santa so year after year I would explain Santa is not real but Jesus is. When our daughter was young a friend questioned me in the same way you have shared, Do we need a similar openness, imagination, willingness, and playful curiosity to believe in Jesus that we need to believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus? The last couple years when our daughter asked, "Mom, is Santa real" begrudgingly I replied, "What do you think?" This year she is 8 and decided to leave a note for Santa on Christmas Eve:

Dear SANTA,
ARE YOU REAL?
CIRCLE YES OR NO

Beside the hand written note she put a plate with three star cookies and a glass of milk. I was awaken on Christmas morning with an alarming, "MOM - MOM, Santa drank his milk, ate his cookies, and circled YES but he did not leave presents in my stocking! One of her big brothers played Santa the night before but I overslept leaving the stockings bare. This same Christmas we went to a local church display of "A Journey to Bethlehem" where our daughter connected for the first time that the baby Jesus in a manger is her Savior. So as a mother I can rest from all the Christmas drama relieved I can not screw it up because while Santa needed my help Jesus did not!! I am delighted this magical Christmas our daughter is 8 and she believes in Jesus:)

Hi Sam: I enjoy reading your articles. Waiting to read the next one. You and Darcie are always in my prayers.

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