Note: Every year, I deal with the rigors of teaching by spending the first three days of the break sleeping. A. Lot. In recognition of that fact, I have given the large staff here at bradenbell.com some extra time off. Between my sleeping and their time off, things might be a bit light around here for the next bit. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas (or that you had a Happy Hanukah, a Refreshing Ramadan, and a Jubilant Kwanza!) Seriously, whatever your holiday, I hope this time is wonderful and meaningful to you. And for all of us, here are thoughts and prayers for a peaceful, prosperous Happy New Year! --Braden
I'm 39 years old and I believe in Santa Claus. I really do. Let me tell you why--and then maybe you will also.
I didn't always believe in him. In fact, while I was growing up, I didn't believe in him. My sweet mom really wanted the focus to be on Baby Jesus (and rightly so), consequently Santa just wasn't a big part of our celebrations.
I was never anti-Santa, I thought he seemed harmless enough, but he just didn't play much of a role in my life. Until I was married with children.
A lot of you know the first part of the story. While on a mission for my church, I became quite ill. I managed to struggle along through the complete two years, but I came home severely weakened and exhausted.
Still, I fell in love, got married and we started our family. Then I relapsed and the sickness came back with a vengeance. Those years are a blur for me. For basically three years I could do nothing but lay in my bed and sleep. On good days I was able to watch a little TV. I had to drop out of school and it was impossible to work. My poor wife was essentially a single mother of two little boys--in addition to taking care of a sick husband. It was terribly, incredibly, perpetually bleak during those years. There was not much to cheer us as we trudged through the soul-numbing bleakness that was always there.
Eventually, miraculously, I was healed. But after three years, we were in a pretty deep hole--financially and emotionally.
Christmas came the next year. We were grateful that I wasn't sick any more, but there were residual effects. I was way behind in school, we had no money, and Christmas was going to be fairly sparse for our kids--and now there were three of them. That was ok. We weren't miserable or anything--but it wasn't exactly terribly festive, either.
Then, one night we heard a noise outside. Someone left a beautiful artificial Christmas tree on our doorstep. That was followed by decorations and some other things. That really brightened our holiday.
Then, several nights before Christmas, we heard the distinct sound of bells outside. I opened the door and went to see what it was. I opened the door and Santa Claus walked in.
I'm not joking. Just like that. He brought in several laundry baskets full of gifts, all wrapped beautifully. The new tree, by the way, is in the background. There were lots of gifts for all of us--things we wanted, things we needed, and everything was in the right sizes, too.
Of course, the gifts were nice—wonderful, in fact--but the greater gift was the way our hearts were lifted up and the love that was so clearly manifest. To this day, we aren't sure who was behind this. We racked our brains and went over every possibility. But we never found out. And they made that Christmas for us. We remember--and relive this--every year.
And then I realized that we didn't need to know. Santa Claus was behind it. He was responsible. That was when Santa became real to me. And what is Santa? I believe that he is the embodiment of the kindness we show each other. He is the name we give to the urge to do something nice for someone else. He is the incarnation of all the good will that we feel during this time of the year.
At this time of year, we celebrate miracles—the miracles of a lamp that burned for eight nights in a time of darkness, and the miracle of a baby in a manger. But as we celebrate these miracles, there is another miracle I love to think about. It is the miracle of human kindness—the miracle that happens when we reach out and show love and concern to those around us. And when we do, we embody the spirit of miracles. And to me, that is who Santa is—the symbol of our best intentions and kindest actions. And that is why I believe Santa is real. That is why I know Santa is real. I met him many years ago on a cold night in a small apartment in Provo UT.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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