We blew our new Santa Clause up yesterday. Not like bombs or stuffed through the hat with cookies blew up, but inflated. He wasn't as big as I expected him to be; I think he'd shed a few pounds hanging out in that box in aisle 1 at Home Depot all summer. Elliott and Ian are pretty excited about the new Christmas addition. I guess I am too.
I've always been a fan of the big man. Not everyone is. Some folks think he doesn't align quite closely enough with the real meaning of Christmas. I guess I've never tried to see Santa through the lens of the real meaning of Christmas. As a Christian, I only recognize one meaning. Nothing changes that. Not a Walmart greeter that wishes me happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Not my children spending a month or more awaiting on a man to arrive on a reindeer driven sled to crawl down a chimney I'm not sure they know we don't have. None of it undoes the birth of Christ. But so much of it adds to the celebration.
I was in my late 20's before I fully embraced the real meaning of Christmas. But so much of my life leading up to then was pointing toward that day. And believe it or not, I think Santa had a lot to do with that. Long after I realized how preposterous it was to believe reindeer could fly and a man that spent most of the year in the obese corner of a BMI chart, got suddenly active one night a year and flew around the world delivering toys and eating plates full of cookies off a billion or so kitchen tables - some inexplicable magic remained. It's true, Santa may not have left any toys or took any cookies, but he planted a spirit.
It took a few years, but I never stopped searching for the source of that little piece of Santa that never died. A source of hope and of light. Of a child in a manger. And oh how I love watching it come alive again in our boys.