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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Believe.

Ah, the mystery of technology. Why does the image function not work one day, and then work the next? Merry Christmas to me.

Okay, so to catch up on the last few days, here is Evan in the Spidey costume. See how buff he is.




Here is Ellie visiting Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Here is me in the dogsled.

Here is Ellie on the sledding hill Bruce made in our backyard. He used the snowblower to move all our backyard snow (almost 1 1/2 feet of it) into one big pile. Then he carved a track by building up snow berms around the trees and deck. It is exceptionally fun and has made us very popular with the children.



So, catch up on today, Christmas Eve is drawing to a close. The wee ones are tucked in their beds, certain that they'll never be able to sleep, knowing Santa is so close. And yet, there is not the slightest evidence that any child is still awake.


Today was a whirlwind of church; then a last-minute, mini-get together at our house; a moment of absolute certainty that I was getting the stomach flu; missing candle-light service due to that certainty; a call to my family in Seattle, who I was missing; wrapping of the few last gifts; miraculously feeling better; and lastly, because I was no longer nauseous, making a batch of gingerbread cookies for Santa.


We discovered the NORAD Santa-tracker website last year. Tonight we accessed it and watched the videos from the International Space Station, London, New York, and Indiana. At this moment, I believe he's somewhere down in South America.


The Santa thing has been a bit of a puzzle in our house. Two years ago, Jack concluded, with help from Bruce and me, that Santa is a fiction. So, in exchange for his absolute secrecy, we allowed him to stay up and help us prepare the stockings for the benefit of his siblings, that they might persist in their belief.


Now, two years older and with two more years life-experience, Jack is having a crisis of Santa-unbelief. He no longer disbelieves in Santa.


It started last year when we first discovered the NORAD site.


(Hold on a sec. Gotta check the site again....... Wow! Santa is almost to Seattle!!!!!! That's where I used to live!!!!!)


Okay. So, www.noradsanta.org is really, really, really cool. It even has video sitings. Last year, I showed them the video of Santa flying around the Space Needle and you should have seen Jack's jaw drop. His eyes got wild and panicked. "Mom! Is that really....? Mom. It can't be. You said..... Huh."
So, a seed of belief was planted.

The Christmas party for Bruce's work that we went to the other day featured, as previously mentioned, an encounter with Santa. Through the miracle of Santa-technology, he gave a special, personal message to each child. He mentioned Brownies to Sabrina; to Ellie, he suggested more obedience to her parents; to Evan, nothing, since Evan is still relatively clueless; and to Jack he referred to the computer game, Age of Empires, that Jack obsessively plays. Each child received his/her gift and message, and sat down a bit bewildered. "How did he know that about me?"
Another seed of belief planted.

Around this time, Jack mentioned he was going to write Santa a note specifically asking him if he was real. Tormented by the possibility that Santa might really be real - his sisters and friends certainly think so - he wants proof, if even of a dubious sort.

Tonight, we brought NORAD up again. The first video of Santa we watched was his visit to New York. Jack spat at the computer, "It looks like a cartoon!" Then he turned to Bruce and asked, "How do they get the videos?" When I asked if they wanted to see Santa at the International Space Station, Jack was very enthusiastic, explaining to Sabrina how Santa can get inside it to leave presents: "He uses his magic to make chimneys on places where there are no chimneys."
We made the cookies. We left a cup of milk. Jack wrote a note to Santa. It says, "I hope you enjoy the cookies and milk Santa. Jack. Please sign you name here Santa. [Then, an arrow pointing to a white space.]" When Jack wakes up in the morning, it will be signed.

(NORAD update: Santa flew straight north from Idaho up to Montana and into Saskatchewan, bypassing Seattle. Interesting choice in global navigation. Go Santa.)

In much the same way I teeter between belief and unbelief in God, there is Jack, riding the fence between belief and unbelief in Santa. Even having been told otherwise by his parents; even having participated in and been witness to the "Stocking Ceremony of Unbelief"; even having eaten the cookie and drank the milk and signed the note himself; in spite of seemingly irrefutable evidence, he believes.

He is the opposite of the doubting Thomas. "But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, "We saw the Master." But he said, "Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won't believe it."

No matter what the evidence, Jack will believe in Santa.
And so I ponder the nature of belief. Belief is foolish. It is weak-minded. It is childish and blind.

(NORAD update: Santa is in Seattle right now!!!! And he already hit Forty Mile, Yukon - but hasn't been here yet. The socks are still empty.)

Jack's third-grade class had a Christmas party last Thursday. They watched "The Polar Express". I hadn't seen it in a long time, but was struck by a scene near the end, where the little boy finds the jingle bell from Santa's sleigh. Initially, he cannot hear the jingle of the bell, because only people who believe in Santa can hear the bell jingle. Until the moment Santa arrives on the scene, but the boy doesn't believe in Santa. But the moment he declares his belief, he is able to both hear the jingle and see Santa himself.

The closest I can come to explaining my own belief, is by comparing it to this scene. I hear a sound and see a face that reason tells me shouldn't be there. Every time - every single time - I have laid it all out there, ready to accept the empty void of nothingness in response to my remonstrations, there is this crazy jingle.

But enough about me. I'm getting much too serious on this happy Christmas Eve. There is a gingerbread cookie for Santa that I need to eat. I have stockings to fill and foreheads to kiss.


Here is a picture of Jack explaining Age of Empires to Santa.

If it can be verified, we don't need faith... Faith is for that which lies on the other side of reason. Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys. Madeleine L'Engle

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3 Comments:

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evan was meant to wear the Spidey suit! Too cute!!!! I still don't get what you mean about Santa and why you do all his work for him. I'm in Jack's camp on this one ;-) Miss you, glad you guys had a good Christmas & that you remained kitten free. KK

 
At 7:46 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

What's not to believe? Sure, as parents we "help" Santa out, but every year he returns and brings not only things for the kiddos but for the moms and dads of the world too. He is the one person that is truly forgiving...

 
At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WRITE PLEASE!!!!

He is still so cute

 

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