So much of Christmas is expected to be joyful. The search for the perfect Christmas gifts to watch our loved one’s face light up when they receive it. Receiving the gift you really wanted and needed on Christmas morning. Singing carols, going to Christmas parties, decorating our homes, and getting into the “Christmas Spirit.” But surrounded by the joyful parts of Christmas is struggle, loss and pain which make the Christmas season difficult.
I recently heard a story about a terminally ill five-year-old boy and his visit with Santa. The boy was dying and his final wish was to see Santa. His parents told the nurse and she called a professional Santa that she knew. The Santa with his real beard came over without donning the traditional red Santa suit because there wasn’t enough time. He knew that his job was to make sure the boy got Christmas since he wasn’t supposed to live until December 25th.
When Santa arrived the boy’s mom gave Santa a gift to give the boy and Santa went in. He began by saying “What’s this I hear, you’re going to be missing Christmas this year?” The boy explained that he was going to die. Santa said that he wasn’t going to miss Christmas because the elves already got his present ready. He gave the gift to the boy and helped him open it since he was too weak to take off the wrapping paper. The boy smiled. It was exactly what he had hoped for.
Santa then told him, “When you get up to those pearly gates you just tell them you’re Santa’s number one elf.” The boy answered by saying, “I am?” Santa said, “You sure are! I’m sure they’ll let you right in.”
The boy gave Santa a big hug and looked in his eyes and said, “Can you help me?” The boy died in Santa’s arms.
This story reminds me what Christmas is really all about. I love the joyful gift giving and receiving, singing carols, going to parties and decorating for the anticipation of Jesus’ birth. These things are important to prepare us, but they are not what the season is about.
Advent and Christmas are about faith. Faith that Jesus came to be with us through those joyful times and the really hard times. The belief that Jesus wants to be with you through whatever your Christmas season might include. Joy or sorrow. Pain or pain free. Hurting or recovering. Courageous or afraid. Worried or trusting. Grieving or hopeful.
No matter what this season holds for you. You are number one to God. Jesus is here for you. Merry Christmas!