WARNING: If you have young kids that know how to read, make sure they aren’t watching over your shoulder right now.
I don’t remember the exact day, but right around December 20th, 2016, I made a big mistake. I may not remember the date, but I will never forget the fallout.
We had recently finished our year of traveling the country in an RV and were staying at my parents’ house for a couple months until we found ourselves a new house here in San Diego. Kelly and I had locked ourselves into a bedroom to wrap all the presents we had bought for the kids. After wrapping a few presents, we’d open the door and set them in the hallway, then one of the kids would come get them and put them under the tree.
Of course my daughter, who was 10 at the time, had to read all the gift tags. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that she would do this until she read one out loud in that knowing voice that sounds like you’re winking.
“Oh. This one is from Saaaaannnnta.” That was it. The drawn out pronunciation, the audible air quotes, the look on her face—I knew she no longer believed in Santa, and I told Kelly. We decided that Kelly should talk to her to make sure she didn’t accidentally ruin it for my son, who was only 7 then.
Well, it turns out that she hadn’t stopped believing in Santa yet. She was crushed when Kelly started talking to her about Santa not being real and that Mommy and Daddy were Santa and now she could be Santa too and help keep the magic alive for her brother and …
Tears. “Santa’s not real???” More tears. “Wait! What about the tooth fairy?” That night she learned that Kelly and I had been pretending to be all of the imaginary things she had believed in for her whole life.
To this day, I don’t know how I misread the situation, but I will forever be the dad that killed Santa for his daughter. And the tooth fairy. And the Easter bunny. And all manner of other childhood fairy tale beliefs.
My only solace was that I sent Kelly to do the dirty work.
Now any skeptics might say, “How can you believe in God if your daughter doesn’t even believe in Santa any more?” And as someone who is himself skeptical of many things, I can acknowledge that seems like a logical question.
The thing is, the analogy that compares belief in Santa to belief in God is incorrect. If you start with the wrong perspective, everything you see will be skewed. In the correct analogy, God isn’t represented by Santa. God is the parent.
Belief in God isn’t believing in a fairy tale character. Belief in God is finally understanding that my Father is the One that provides every good and perfect gift, that He loves me, that He gave me life and that He wants me to know Him. Believing in God, and knowing Him, is like finally understanding that your parents love you, want the best for you, and provide for you regardless of your childish beliefs.
She was 10 years old when I ruined Santa for her. But she was also 10 years old when she was filled with the Spirit and really began her own walk with her heavenly Father.
This post is part of the Januwordy 2020 challenge. Today’s prompt is “believe”.