I felt the tug at my sleeve at the same time I felt my heart drop to the vicinity of my stomach.
“The line for Santa is reeeeally long again,” Cole mumbled. I grabbed both boys’ hands firmly as the Santa-seeking crowds swarmed around us like honeybees on a hive.
“Wow, it is long.”
Yes, check out that line. Is that child sleeping on the mall floor?
In desperation I took note of the height and sturdiness of the white picket fence surrounding Santa’s picture area, wondering if I could still jump that high. Doubtful.
More importantly, could I lift the kids over it?
My eyes stopped short on the burly man standing at the white picket fence entrance. Why in the world did Santa need a security guard? And was that pepper spray hanging on his belt?
Sheesh. What a sad statement for our society.
I covertly dropped my gaze back to the picket fence, mentally ticking off dimensions and calculating Cole and Chase’s combined weights, adding momentum divided by…
Oh, okay. Never mind the fence-jumping idea.
We were standing just a few yards from Santa and Mrs. Clause, an elegant and affable representation of the North Pole’s main man and his main squeeze. These two had been offering their friendly smiles and welcoming laps for eager (and occasionally, screaming) children for at least a decade.
In December 2004 we’d placed our 6 month old firstborn son on this Santa’s lap, and Cole held Mrs. Claus’s finger while mugging – nearly toothless – for the camera. Each successive year we’d done the same thing, even for the two Christmases we lived two hours south in Cape Coral.
I think we missed one year. I glanced pleadingly at Mr. Large-and-in-charge security guard, wondering if he’d allow us easy access with a near-perfect record of loyalty.
He was scowling. No-go on the loyalty clause.
I blew out a frustrated breath, accepting defeat. Between the never-ending hunt for a parking spot (within 3.4 miles of the mall), the copious crowds and the frantic sense of shopping urgency, the mall is a place I try to avoid during the holiday season.
Yet this was our 3rd trip to the Brandon Mall in a week, and I felt a knot of foolishness form in the same spot where my heart had dropped a few moments prior.
Wait a minute…what have I been focused on? And who have I been seeking this Christmas season?
Our boys are aware that Santa Claus is a Christmas story. Fiction with a capital F, for fun. A red-clad, rotund, jolly bearded man delivering gifts (via a reindeer-lead sled) to every child in the whole, entire world? Eh, no. Cole called me out on Santa last year and Chase is a born skeptic.
We’ve taught our boys that our Savior, Jesus – the CHRIST child – is the heart of Christmas. Jesus is Christmas. Nonfiction with a capital N, for Noel.
But as we headed into Books a Million to browse before leaving the mall once and for all this Christmas season, the knot of foolishness grew uncomfortably tight.
Whom have I been seeking?
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’” ~ Matthew 2:1 & 2
Have I been seeking the jolly man…or Jesus? He who is temporal and transient, or He Who is eternal and everlasting?
Mr. and Mrs. Claus aren’t in the mall anymore. There aren’t any child-filled lines wrapping around, trailing past Books a Million, and no white picket fence stands in place to keep overeager parents from tackling a smiling Santa.
Santa and Mrs. Claus are gone. But, Jesus is here.
He’s the Son of the living God, the Messiah Who made Himself nothing in order to bridge the gap between sinful humanity and God’s holy perfection. The Bible proclaims His coming, birth, life, death and resurrection throughout its holy pages.
The perfect Man who wore red on his hands and feet so we could wear His righteousness for eternity. He’s the One the wise men desperately sought two thousand years ago, and He’s the One I seek above all else in my life.
Santa never was. Jesus always has been. Seek Him.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore! ~ 1 Chronicles 16:8-11