“Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.” – Francis Church
One of the books I read this year was ‘Live Not By Lies’ by Rob Dreher. I touched on this book in prior pieces, but it is the contention of Dreher that we’re in the infancy of soft totalitarianism, and he shares the advice of Eastern Europeans on how to survive by reasserting truth. Heeding the words of Soviet clergy and dissidents like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Soviets kept their history, traditions, and religion alive in the underground church. In a world where a male is female, wrong is right, and violence is peace, clinging to the truth is how you come out with your soul intact on the other side.
One Christmas before I was married and my then-fiancee was in medical school, we decided to decorate our first Christmas tree and put it in her apartment. I had just taken my first job out of college, and I made modest wages. We decided to go to Big Lots where they had advertised a pre-lit Christmas tree for sale in the local paper.
When we got to the store, there was a beautiful 7 ft. tree display with hundreds of soft white bulbs. It was much nicer than what was advertised. We took it to the register and it didn’t come up in the system. The manager looked at the ad, applied the sale price, and rang us up. But on our way out the door, I noticed another display in the corner of my eye. It was of a frumpy and sad tree. It was the tree that was pictured in the ad.
I wanted to walk out the door with my majestic bargain, but the quiet inner voice got the better of me. What if this lady was to be fired over a Christmas tree? I pointed out the display to the manager and told her she was giving us the wrong tree at the sale price. She thanked me for pointing this out and then said that she sold us the tree in our cart at the sale price and she was going to stick by that, and then said “Merry Christmas!” The truth is always the answer.
When we had children, we decided that we always wanted to be in a position for them to come to us for anything, and the way that we hope to accomplish that is by always telling them the truth. This creates challenges for me when it comes to holiday traditions. My wife enjoys the imagination and wonder that come with holiday celebrations and so Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and most recently the Switch Witch are easier discussions for her. For me, these conversations are a struggle. I don’t have a poker face, and so on questions of existence “I don’t know? I would like to meet them.” has become a default response, and remains the truth. All except for Santa Claus, of course.
When it comes to Santa Claus I do my best to explain who he was and is. That Saint Nicholas is a third-century Greek Saint from modern-day Turkey. That Dutch tradition holds he got his start by leaving money in the shoes of poor children, left out on the stoops of their homes. Most importantly that Saint Nicholas is and was a servant of the Lord Jesus, and that he gave and we give because Jesus gives. For my sons that is a sufficient response and always keeps Jesus at the forefront of Christmas and in a spirit of truth.
As we close out 2021 and head into a New Year, my challenge and wish for readers of this message is a recommitment to the truth. In the Bible, Jesus refers to Himself as the Truth. The Bible says we shall know the Truth, and in the end, it is the Truth that sets us free. This world increasingly confronts us with cleverly disguised lies and asks us to trade the truth for a lie. It asks us to worship created things and not the Creator. In 2022, may we affirm the truth and as a result remain free. Merry Christmas!