Last year I took my daughter, two-years-old at the time, to see Santa. She refused to sit on his lap. She refused to tell him what she wanted for Christmas. She was terrified of this big man in a red suit with a white beard. She wanted to have nothing to do with him.
Starting in September this year, she began asking how many days it was until Christmas. She then confidently informed me she would be sitting on Santa’s lap this year, telling him everything she wants. I had her practice on me, pretending that I was Santa.
First on her list was a purple horse. But it had to be a small horse so she could jump on it and ride. After that, she wanted a unicorn. Then she wanted snow. She wanted snow everywhere. When the Christmas season officially started (after Thanksgiving), we watched Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. During every commercial break, some toy was advertised and she would lean close to me and whisper, “Do you think Santa knows I need that?”
While she is continually adding to the list of things she wants Santa to bring her, I have developed my own list of things to ask for this Christmas:
Peace in the heart of all my children. I have three wonderful, energetic children. They do not know the dangers of the world outside our home. They are ignorant of terrorist attacks. They are clueless that there are many who share our faith being killed for the name of Jesus. But the time is coming when they will learn of the horrors going on around this world. And while I cannot provide them peace on the earth, I can show them how to have peace in their heart by relying on Christ.
A stable, welcoming home. I loved unwrapping gifts as a child. I love unwrapping gifts as an adult. But one of the most important gifts I ever received in my life was not found under a tree, nor was it given to me after blowing out some candles. One of the most important and impactful gifts my parents gave me was a stable home. I never questioned if my Dad loved my Mom or vice versa. Those were thoughts that simply did not enter my mind because my parents were very intentional about showing their love for one another to us kids. While I cannot provide my children a stable world, I can ensure I stay faithful and loving to their mother, my wife, and never give them a reason to think otherwise.
Another year of health. My family does not have the best health history. In my immediate family are cancer, diabetes, stroke, and a plethora of other problems that make insurance companies have a conniption. All I can do for their health is provide a safe place to live, warm clothes, and healthy food. The rest really is out of my control and sometimes that drives me nuts. If I thought climbing onto Santa’s lap to ask for them to have a healthy year would actually make sure they got it, I would be first in line every morning. But instead, I am on my knees regularly going to the Great Physician asking that He blesses them with it.
An understanding that their value does not come from themselves but from their Creator. I have met very few people who have never dealt with self-value issues. Sometimes they deal with feeling as though they have no worth. Sometimes they deal with feeling they have too much worth (though they typically are not aware they have this problem). Both are forms of pride I believe we all deal with in different ways in different seasons. We are all prone to be more susceptible to one extreme or the other. But the objective truth is that apart from God we have no value. We are only of value because we are made in His image. It is He who gave us value at our birth. It is He who gave us purpose in His death. While I cannot force them to understand this, but I can make sure I do not base their value on athletic performance, grades, or on some other external measure of success.
My list is much longer, but these are just a few items on my Christmas wish list for my children. My three-year-old got closer to Santa this year than last, but still did not want to sit in his lap. My two-year-old just wanted to talk to him about tractors, not things he wanted for Christmas, and my two-month-old was too busy inhaling a bottle to be bothered with the big jolly man. But, whether they know it or not, I am crawling into the lap of a much bigger being on their behalf not just during Christmas, but every day of the year. I am asking for things on their behalf, but unlike their requests, the things I am asking for cannot be wrapped up and placed under a tree. Nor do my requests involve a tiny purple horse.