While visiting friends on the weekend before Christmas, we spent a chilly afternoon walking around a cute downtown shopping area in Long Grove, Illinois. While there, Santa Claus was wandering through the streets saying hello to children as they walked by. He stopped to talk to our small group, and asked each of the 4 young children what they wanted for Christmas. Our friend’s daughter requested an Elsa dress; their son a Transformer. Then Santa got to my six-year-old, Judson. Santa Claus asked Judson what he wanted for Christmas.
I was unsure what Judson would say. He had been oddly silent this year regarding his Christmas wish list. Judson was quiet for a bit while we all patiently waited to hear his response. He told me later that he was scared to tell us what he wanted. He finally whispered something to his Dad. My husband told him it was OK – don’t be afraid! You can tell us what you want for Christmas. So my son said he wanted a power.
We grown-ups – including Santa Claus – were a little confused. We weren’t sure what Judson meant by “power.” Santa fumbled through his words a bit. Santa said – “Power. Like a power train?” (Whatever that means.) Judson nodded slowly, and with a response much like the little boy agreeing that he wanted a football during the infamous scene in “A Christmas Story,” said “Yes – a power train.” Santa said he might have one of those in his bag – again, not sure what that is – and the awkward moment passed.
When we had a moment later to talk – after a lovely walk through town with a stop at a candy store and hot chocolate together in a gazebo – we asked Judson what he meant by “power.” He said he meant a super hero power – like running fast or reading minds. My husband and I gave each other a look. How do we get through this one?! We made the attempt to say that “power” wasn’t the type of thing Santa Claus brings. But this darn Santa we met in the street had to say he had this “power train” in his bag. We were stuck.
We were not sure what to do – so we took the easy approach and ignored it. At the last minute I searched for some stocking stuffers in a Christian bookstore. I found Judson a red snap bracelet that said “Be Strong.”
We make it through Christmas morning. Santa Claus brought Judson the Star Wars trilogy – movies 4, 5 and 6. (I will admit we were all very excited about this gift from Santa!) At the end of the morning, when all the other presents are open, we open stockings and Judson finds his “Be Strong” bracelet. His grandmas catch on to the idea that the message on this bracelet is where Judson’s request for power really comes from.
“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Oh, how perfect! And how I wish this were part of my grand plan. But it wasn’t. I just thought snap bracelets were fun.
But what a wonderful message! We do not have super powers. No matter how good you are this year, Santa can’t bring the ability to run, read minds or fly. Thankfully, we do get power and our strength from God.
This does not mean things will always work out perfectly in each story of our lives – as it often does for superheros in the movie or comics. But it does mean that through God we will be victorious in the end. That is our power, and that is how we are able to “be strong” even during the most difficult times.
I’ll close with what I believe to be the very best part about this story. I sit and write this with my son by my side, curled up next to my arm helping me tell his story. He really gets it – his power comes from God, and he understands what Christmas is really about. Judson says I should end his story like this: the best part about Christmas is that it is about Jesus’ birth. OK, buddy. We can definitely end the story with that!
I think I’ll have him around to help me write more often…