Monday, December 20, 2010

Really Really Real

This time of year is a challenge for the doubters. There is so much proof of goodwill and love and faithfulness abounding that even the hardened find their hearts growing three sizes in one day.

But it is also tough time for the believers. Told over and over again that physical proof will be given to those that believe; it takes a strong heart to remember that NOT every wish is bippity boppity booable. And Disney pales in comparison to the Hallmark Channel. They promise a puppy, a house and a ring to every good mid-twenties girl. Like Oprah's Secret, positive results are seen a measure of how hard you believed, how much positive thought you sent out. If you didn't get what you wished for - you just weren't wishing hard enough.

This is tough on everyone. But I am watching through the eyes of a 5 year old, and it is confusing. Katie's sweet librarian at school shared some ways to "Make it Snow" on the last day of school. Guaranteed. Deliverable = Snow. Two foolproof methods that were well within her abilities. EVEN THOUGH WE LIVE IN ALABAMA. Somehow, despite going to sleep with spoons in our pillowcase and our pajamas on backwards, the next morning was not a winter wonderland. Rather a cold, rainy, dreary day. I tried to convince Katie that she had produced precipitation - a great first start. But she was crestfallen. A belief she had not held the day before was introduced, tested, disproved and produced despair - all in 12 hours.

My friends and I struggle with it. Some skip Santa. Some Santas bring three gifts only - just like the Wise Men. (An odd mashup of Dutch and Mideast culture but it works.) Saint Nicholas gets left out in the cold. For some, elevating one person above another in God's favor is deemed taboo. But elves are ok. Magical elves? Fine!   

I struggle with providing a bulwark against the ridiculous, and a helpmate to the sublime. No mystical magical shelf-sitting elves for me. No Bossa Nova Penbo with Bebe -The Pregnant Robotic Penguin that Really Responds! ( I argued that Penbo is made in China, not the North Pole, but Katie assured me Santa could do anything - even import from the Chinese.) But the magic of Santa and reindeer and Clement Moore are all wonderous in my book. The Advent Wreath and the Nativity Advent Calendar are beautiful traditions. (Or will be as soon as my children stop fighting over the Baby Jesus and playing with fire. Right now both have been confiscated and are on top of my dresser. ) I find myself in the role of Chief Denier and Head of Disappointment these days.

But I don't want to over promise to my girls.
No one hurts through the holidays like my friends struggling with infertility.
Unless it is those who've lost a family member during Christmas.
I don't want prayer associated with results.
What I prayed hardest for this year was denied.
I don't want proof to produce faith.
Or the other way around.

All of this deep thought was swirling around last night. My friends had a wonderful party and invited Santa. The kids loved it and Katie was clearly thinking carefully on the drive home. Then, as she was getting ready for bed,  she said, "Mama, I think Dead isn't real."
I sat down.
"Because I miss Sue Sue and Sugar so so much that I think Dead can't be real."
In a rare twist, I knew right away what to say. "It isn't real. Jesus conquered Death. Sue Sue and Sugar will live forever with him and in our hearts. It still hurts just as much down here. And they really died. But death isn't forever. Everlasting life is. And Love. And God. They are really real."

I don't know about Katie, but I was comforted. I know that everything my Mom told me about Christmas, and God, and life had stuck. Rather than wishing I could call her with the tough questions, I could answer them. Quite a moment.
I just hope I can be as comforting on Christmas morning when Penbo doesn't fly down the chimney and pop out her Purple Plush Bebe.