Wednesday, December 23

advent 2009

There were some holiday traditions of my childhood that lingered on well past practicality. One of those traditions was the Christmas Eve treat for Santa. Even after my brother and I were old enough that we understood who was really behind all those gifts, we still left a snack and a thank you note for Old Saint Nick. And we expected our parents to carry on the charade as well. My brother and I checked each Christmas morning to be sure the plate and glass were empty.

Except that one year.

We spent Christmas Eve as we always did, first at the Christmas Eve church service, then with a big dinner at home, and then opening one gift each before bedtime. But my brother and I left out one small detail: the treat for “Santa.” Neither of us remembered the cookies and milk. Neither remembered the thank you note.

Christmas morning we awoke with our usual enthusiasm, bounding down the steps to see what “Santa” left under the tree. We found our gifts; but we also found the following letter:

Dear Ungrateful Children,
I have endured a long journey across this Earth, braving freezing temperatures and treacherous weather. I arrived at your house, so looking forward to a bit of nourishment to protect me from exhaustion and revive me for the remainder of my trip. But did you two remember to leave a little something for Santa? No. I cannot overstate my disappointment. Against my better judgment, I’m leaving these gifts even though it’s clear they are not appreciated. But be forewarned – I’ll not be so generous if this happens again, and you’ll see a quick end to your gifts from the North Pole.
Regretfully,
Santa Claus

My brother and I had many good laughs over this letter. But, as you can imagine, we did not forget to leave the treats or the thank you note again.

Every day we have much for which to be thankful. At Christmas time in particular, we are reminded again and again of the great gift we received when Jesus was born. But it’s so easy to be distracted by all the other delights and stresses of the season and forget to give thanks.

Lucky for us, Jesus doesn’t leave nasty notes by the tree on Christmas morning if we forget to say thank you. And he doesn’t threaten to revoke the gift. How fortunate we are for a loving God. Let’s all remember to celebrate this good season with grateful hearts.

– Ginger Heidel

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