Dear Santa,

Hi. Remember me? I’m the one who never really believed. There was always some doubt, though. I remember looking up into the sky, littered with diamond stars, feeling the cold in my toes and my elbows, and seeing a glint of red. “That’s Rudolph!” Aunt C exclaimed, with all the wonder and excitement of a child. Later, she would sing me to sleep with various Christmas carols and songs, and her voice would echo in my head for years. When I wonder if there’s a Santa, I hear Aunt C’s voice, reading the nativity story from the Gospels and singing with all the passion of someone who still believes.

I’m writing you this year because you’ve been on my mind. My almost-three-year-old is pretty sure you’re bringing her some bounty come the 25th. I’ve told her that Santa can probably only bring one gift, but not to forget that she has a boatload of aunts and uncles and other relatives.

But you know, Santa, at age 30 with two kids, I’m closer to believing in you than I ever have been. It’s as I think about what you symbolize that I get closer to standing in the “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” camp.

It’s on everyone else’s minds this time of year too. What to do about Santa? We have bigger fish to fry – world hunger, poverty, abortion – and here we are, debating about a guy in a red suit. And that’s as it should be. If we don’t see Santa as a metaphor for the joy that Advent yields to us in the manger, as a lesson in anonymous giving as a sign of love, as an example of unconditional love (I’m not so much into the “have you been good this year?” tack), then maybe we don’t need Santa.

You were a bishop first, and as such, your role then – and now, as you mingle in the communion of saints – was to serve the One we’re all anticipating this time of year. There’s a big birthday party brewing, and you’re one of the first ones in line to celebrate, aren’t you? And that puts you in good company. That makes you not so much the distorted bringer-of-toys that we see on TV as the bringer-of-Good-News that we see kneeling by the manger.

I’ve spent this Advent being thankful and making lists of the actual things that I’m thankful for. Every day that I post on my blog, I’ve made myself put words to the subtle and point out the obvious, explain the little things and describe the big things, list the amusing shades of gray and clarify the serious rainbow of blessings. In doing that, Santa, I’ve realized that there’s really nothing I want for Christmas, except to kneel by the manger with you. I want to have a heart like Mary’s, humble and joyful at the “Yes!” she was given the opportunity to proclaim.

It’s not exactly something you can stuff in my stocking, Santa, but maybe you can pray for me. I’m pretty sure it’s going to take a lot of God’s help to get me to be more like His mother…

Merry Christmas!

Sarah R.