“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things..” I Corinthians 13:11
I can remember like it was yesterday when I had to have “the talk” with my 5-year-old son, Jeremy. No. It wasn’t “that talk.” He was still a little young for that one. I’m talking about the talk about Santa Claus. I took him and his 9-year-old brother, Adam, to father-son weekend retreat at Warm Beach Conference Center on the Puget Sound coast of Washington. (“Warm Beach” is a misnomer. It is neither warm nor is it a beach. I guess “Freezing Cold Swamplands” wouldn’t attract as many guests to the conference center!)
I took a walk on that chilly marsh on that fall Saturday Northwest morning with just Jeremy and me. Jeremy was the first to talk. “Dad, the big kids at camp said there is no such thing as Santa Claus.” He then looked up at me with those big bluish-green eyes hoping that I would assure him that Santa Claus truly existed.
Okay, I need to explain something first. Jeremy’s mom and I decided to go with the Santa Claus fantasy for the kids when they were young while at the same time emphasizing that the birth of Jesus Christ was the main “reason for the season.” It was kind of a “hybrid approach” where the kids would experience the wonder of the fantasy and then at the same time embrace the reality of Jesus. I know. That approach has its pitfalls. Like “If you lied to me about Santa, how do I know that Jesus is real?” I get it. We probably would have done that differently if we had it to do all over again.
So as Jeremy looked at me with those big eyes of his I had to make a quick decision. Do I continue the fantasy and cause some lasting credibility damage or do I just “pull off the band aid” and tell him the cruel, hard truth? I did a quick cost/benefit analysis in my head and then whispered a very short prayer to God …”HELP!” With that done I just decided to tell him the truth.
I said, “You know buddy those boys ARE right. Santa Claus IS a pretend person.” I then tried to pivot into the truth of real miracle of Christmas.” You know that Jesus IS for real and He is MORE of a miracle than any ole’ Santa Claus. God became a little baby, grew up, died on the cross for our sins and was raised to life so we can live with Him forever. That is much better than Santa Claus isn’t it?!!”
I thought to myself, with a sense of self-congratulations, “Well said. What a great dad you are. First you take your son to a father-son retreat and now you ace your 5-year-old’s Santa Claus question. You are quite a dad!” As I was celebrating my response to his question I happened to look down and see his eyes. They were full of tears. He wasn’t very impressed with my answer. He believed in Jesus in his own 5-year-old way but he wanted to believe in Santa Claus too. He was experiencing a painful moment when reality came crashing down upon his magical fantasy-filled innocence and his natural childlike bent to believe everything his mom and dad said to be true.
That five-year-old is now a 32-year-old 6 foot 6” married father of a two-year-old boy, with another on the way, living in Dallas, Texas. He has grown up to be a committed husband and father. He has always had a sense of adventure in all that he does. He hiked the Appalachian trail alone before college and then hiked the length of the entire New Zealand nation from north to south on the Te Arora Trail with his wife, Anna. Despite my bumbling, very flawed performance as a father, as illustrated in the story above, he grew up to be a fine young man. Of everything he has accomplished so far in his life, I am most grateful that Jeremy has fully put his trust in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. And Jesus is not a “bubble” that any human being will ever be able to pop!
Written by Jamie Bohnett. Contact the Author: firstname.lastname@example.org