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It took seven years to settle on a compromise about Santa. During two years of da􏰀ng and the first five years of mar- riage, the conflict would come up every Christmas.

The disagreement started one holy night during Handel’s Messiah. Stained glass windows reflected the twilight sky, candles blazed at the altar, and The Halleluiah Chorus was at its climax. Nate turned to me and confided in a whisper, “I am so glad my parents focused on Jesus instead of Santa Claus. There were years I wished we could believe in Santa, but now I am so glad that we never did.”

Stunned, I was certain I had heard him wrong. “What? Did you say you didn’t believe in Santa?”

“Of course not,” he replied as if anyone would know that Santa was not worthy of a child’s a􏰂en􏰀on.

“I have never heard of such a thing,” I whispered back. “That is really sad.”

“Sad?” Nate didn’t understand. “Why is it sad? My parents focused on the real meaning of Christmas which is Jesus.”

As the choir sang, “Halleljah,” I cried for a li􏰂le boy who had no Santa at Christmas.

Years later, I found the irony in this. Santa was a big part of my childhood, but I had grown up without Jesus. It wasn’t un􏰀l I was nearly a teen-ager that I began to truly grasp the meaning of a Messiah who came to earth as a baby with a mission of salva􏰀on. Instead of shedding tears for a boy without Santa, I should have been shedding tears for children who celebrate Christmas without Jesus, for He is the hope of their souls.

As Nate and I compromised our differences about Christmas, our children grew up with both Santa and Jesus. They understood that Santa was a game that we played at Christmas, but the true meaning of Christmas was about the Christ child.

One day our daughters came in from playing in the snow. As we sat at the dinner table, our three-year-old daughter, Chelsey, said, “Daddy, there was red smoke coming out of the chimney.”

Nate, never a fan of Claus, said, “Maybe Santa burned up coming down the chimney.”

Chelsey eyes popped open in horror and she covered her mouth with her hand. Then she visibly relaxed. The hand that had covered her mouth pa􏰂ed Nate’s arm. “Daddy, remember, Santa is pretend; Jesus is real.”

A􏰃er I teasingly smacked Nate, I was overwhelmed by a sense of joy. My daughters were growing up with a true understanding of Christmas....a holy night....a dark manger....and the lover of our soul who came to earth so that we could be with Him.

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