I have been Santa twice in my life. This weekend, I will reprise my role as Santa’s helper at the First Baptist Church in Gibsland. If you are interested in how a Methodist Santa does in the Baptist Church, I invite you to drop by. I worry about this third time being Santa because of the other two times.
I danced fifteen shows with the Lake Charles Civic Ballet as Santa. I have the picture that went into the newspaper on the shelf in my office. I was also paid for my dancing. That makes me a professional dancer. I am no place near dancing with the stars. I was the “most active” Santa in the history of that ballet company. I look at that picture now and wonder, “What were you thinking?”
Half of the shows were in Lafayette. In Lafayette we took a school bus from our hotel to the civic center. I was wearing street clothes. I was in a bus surrounded by kids and some of their parents. The little tyke sitting across the aisle was a boy of four or five. He was one of the elves in the show. I asked him, “What is Santa bringing you for Christmas?” His mom answered from her window seat, “In our household we don’t believe in Santa or other myths.” I made a mental note to avoid further conversations with this mom.
Later that afternoon I was backstage dressed as Santa. That little boy came up to me and tugged on my arm.
“Santa,” he said.
“I really do believe in you.”
Perhaps children develop their own belief systems despite our best efforts.
The other time I was Santa was at an elementary school in Bienville Parish. It was part of my duty as the father of two kids in the school. I walked around distributing candy and read stories to the children. As I was leaving that day a little boy blocked my path. He looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t believe in you because you didn’t come to my house last year.” That little boy still haunts my heart.
I should also count the first Christmas I was Santa for my kids. Andrew wanted a Teenage Ninja Turtle blimp. The blimp had a zillion parts. It also included the Yuletide lie, “some assembly required.” I began assembly at one in the morning and finished at four a.m. The kids were waking us up at five. In later years, Andrew confessed to hiding in the hall and watching us assemble his blimp.
That blimp led to our great family gift giving tradition, gift cards! No assembly required!
While you are pondering the existential ramifications of belief in Santa, remember we are celebrating the gospel truth that the creator of the universe was born into our world as a helpless baby. God loves you so much that He risked helplessness to come to earth to show His love for you.