The older I get, the more of a shock is the arrival of Christmas. It seems that just as I manage to get the ‘thank you‘ letters finished after last year’s onslaught, I am swept up in the throes of the festivities for the oncoming year. This year, Christmas cards have been started just hours after the nice lady in the post office told me that we’d missed the first class deadline. I’ll probably get them posted tomorrow.
At the beginning of December, with uncharacteristic forethought, Kevin and I created a list of family members and close friends who would be expecting a Christmas present, and headed off on the first of a series of shopping expeditions. Each time we found a suitable present for someone, their name was ticked off the list with an efficient flourish, and the item purchased was duly noted. After two hours of shopping, we had managed to buy four presents for four people and had remembered six people that we’d forgotten to put on the list.
But all this is as nothing when compared with my biggest anxiety of 2015.
My award for biggest anxiety of the year goes to my concerns about whether my thirteen year old son still believes in Father Christmas.
All that time ago, when I was a naïve first time mother, I was ready prey to early years professionals who had the statistics for when your child should be showing various signs of development. James was early to smile, late to walk, very early to talk, and very early to read, but I’m not sure if the healthcare system has a statistic for the time when your child should have stopped believing in Father Christmas, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and The Bogeyman.
Well, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and The Bogeyman never featured on the list of fictional characters we introduced our son to. But Father Christmas did.
Each Christmas, for thirteen years, we have gone through the same routine on Christmas Eve. A large sock is found, and at about eleven thirty in the evening, just when we are completely sure our hopelessly excited boy is asleep, we have wrapped small presents and stuffed them into large sock. We’ve never put them at the end of his bed; instead, we’ve always hung them from the mantelpiece at the bottom of the stairs outside his room, so that Santa can find it easily when he comes down the chimney. We’ve never discussed how absurdly small that particular chimney is for a rotund man in a red suit, but we’ve always provided a small glass of brandy and a mince pie for Santa, and a carrot for the reindeer. By Christmas Day, the brandy has gone and both the mince pie and the carrot have had a polite mouthful taken from them.
James has made a few interested observations along the way, such as how often Santa uses the same pattern of wrapping paper as we do, and Kevin and I have agreed that when the expected enquiries arrive as to whether the man with a sleigh really exists, we will never lie in response to a direct question.
And so the years go by. And the direct question has never come.
And hence, my dilemma…
With so many people that haven’t experienced Jesus Christ and therefore who believe He is a lie, I had to wonder to what extent Jamie has, so far, experienced Jesus Christ, and whether being told that Santa is a lie would lead him to believe that Jesus is a lie.
You see what I mean about the tangled web?
So, this year, I figured that enough was enough… Kevin and I discussed it and the one thing that clinched it for me, was the mental image of Jamie expounding the ‘truth’ of Santa Claus as vehemently as I knew he would expound the reality of Jesus Christ. As a responsible mother, I couldn’t possibly allow it.
I prayed about it, psyched myself up, prayed about it again, planned.
What if he was angry?
Oh heck – just get on with it.
The best opportunity for discussion with Jamie is the walk back home when I meet him off the school bus. So, that’s what I decided to do.
After the initial ‘hello’s and ‘how are you’s, the conversation ran something like this:
Me: ‘ Jamie, there’s something we need to talk about.’
Me: ‘Do you believe in Father Christmas?’
Me: ‘James, I think we need to have a little talk about this…’
James: ‘I know he’s not real Mum! I just want the presents…’
I’ve been a mother for thirteen years…
And I still haven’t a clue.