“Sure honey, what do you want to know?” was the confident reply of Papa.
“Well first, what’s the difference between Santa and Jesus? And do Mary and Joseph live at the North Pole? And, at Sunday School we learned about the three Wise Men, but at school we sang about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Was Rudolph at the manger with the Wise Men,” were the initial round of questions blurted out by Katie, Papa’s granddaughter. “It’s all getting jumbled up in here,” said Katie pointing to her head.
“Well we don’t want things getting confused up there, now do we,” said Papa. “You could end up like Uncle Fred, but that’s a whole different story.”
Papa settled into the recliner and snuggled Katie close in. There was a lot of explaining to do, as Rickey often told Lucy. “First you asked about Christmas, so let me tell you about that. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus; the son of God. That is the main reason for all the decorations, and the lights, and the funny blow up snowmen at your Daddy’s house. We have a party on your birthday right?”
Katie was shaking her head, yes.
Papa continued, “So everyone who believes in Jesus, and a lot that don’t, have a party on His birthday.”
“But why do we give presents to each other on Jesus’ birthday?” asked Katie. “Won’t he get mad if he doesn’t get any? I would get mad if everyone else but me got presents on my birthday.” Katie made a good point, but Papa already knew that Katie was no pushover.
“I don’t think Jesus gets mad because we give gifts on His birthday. I think it makes Him happy when we do good things, like giving other people gifts, to honor Him on His birthday.” Katie nodded her head in agreement.
“Now,” said Papa, “about Santa. He was a person who lived a long time ago. He was a nice man who gave gifts to children at Christmas.”
“What do you mean lived,” demanded Katie? “Santa is still alive isn’t he Papa?”
Papa was ready for this question. “Do you believe in Santa, Katie?”
“Yes I do,” said Katie, holding her hand on her heart as if swearing an oath. She must have seen someone do that on TV.
“Then he is real,” replied Papa. Katie relaxed a little, and Papa recognized that he had escaped a very important moment unscathed.
“Remember that Santa lives where it is cold; well Jesus lived where it is hot, near a desert. So the Three Wise Men visited Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but I don’t think Rudolph was there. It was too hot for him,” explained Papa.
“Ok good,” Katie appeared to accept the logic of Papa’s reasoning. “So Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, but Santa was a nice man so we include him too,” summarized Katie? “And the Wise Men didn’t go to the North Pole because it’s too cold.”
“Right,” smiled Papa.
“One last question Papa. Why don’t we sing about Jesus at school and does Rudolph really have a nose that shines? Sorry, that was two questions, huh Papa,” asked Katie.
Papa said, “I don’t understand why you don’t sing about God and Jesus at your school. We used to when I was young.” Then using a time honored parenting technique called deflection Papa said, “As for Rudolph’s nose, you will have to ask your mom.”
“I love you Papa.”
“I love you too Katie.”
The Birth of Jesus – Luke Chapter 2
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.