By Greg Quinn

December 8th, 2010

“Ho-ho-ho” are most likely the three most recognizable words or phrase representing joyful laughter in our American culture today.  When we hear “ho-ho-ho” what do we think of?  No, not a rapper hollering at his girlfriend!  We, of course, think of Santa Claus.  Good ol’ Santa.  Saint Nick.  The giver of goods.  The fat man in a red suit that delivers presents.  Or, in the eyes of a child, the fascinating object of affection, the wonderful happy man that once per year delivers childhood wishes.  Santa Claus.

For a child, Christmas is about Santa Claus.  From the story we all remember as a child, “The Night Before Christmas”, the holiday movies, the Christmas parades, the North Pole, reindeer, and many gifts, Santa and Christmas are a synergistic pair.  For most children, there is no Christmas without Santa.

I’m a Christian.  Yet, I raised my son to believe in Santa Claus as a child.  I see no harm in doing so.  I set him on Santa’s knee in the mall many times, I took him to see Santa in the parades, we even went to Disney World around Christmastime in order to see Santa there.  I have memories of most years reading “The Night Before Christmas”.  We watched Christmas movies together, and Santa was in most of them.  We let him put out milk and cookies for Santa.  We shared his excitement on Christmas morning when we got to see the look on his face with what Santa remembered to put under the tree with the name “Justin” on it.  I shared Santa with my nieces and nephews.  I even played Santa in a play once.  When I have grandchildren, I’ll go along with their fascination about Santa.  Even though I know the truth, I enjoy the fabrication of Santa Claus almost as much as the children do.

But Christmas is not about Santa Claus.  Christmas is not about “ho-ho-ho” from a little round man. Christmas is not about the fat man in the red suit that brings toys to all the good girls and boys.  Santa is a fable.  And sooner or later every child comes to face the fact that Santa is not real after all.

Christmas is not about Christmas movies.  Christmas is not “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”,  Home Alone”, “Christmas Vacation”, “A Christmas Story”, or the best Christmas movie (actually TV show) of them all, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.  Although these are among my favorite movies, and I enjoy watching them every year, Christmas is more than just movies.

Christmas is not about good food, but one look at me will tell you I enjoy good food.  In fact, that’s a family resemblance among the Quinn family.  My Mom is a great cook, as was her mom (Mama Kent), my dad’s mom (Mama Quinn), and all my aunts and many of my uncles.  We have a large family, not just in stature but also in numbers.  And I married a good cook, and she came from a family of good cooks.  So, in our household, Christmas was always a time (and still is) celebrated with good food.

People at Christmastime seem happier.  There is a certain feeling in the air.  People smile more.  Service is better.  Even “Scrooge” can be nicer at Christmas. 

People give more at Christmas, and think of others more often than any other time of the year.  In fact, there are more humanitarian contributions given in the month of December than any other time of the year in the US.  The Salvation Army and other organizations raise most of their money for the whole year during the Christmas season.

And, even though not politically correct, it’s not “happy holidays”.  It’s “merry Christmas”.  For those that would take Christ out of Christmas, it becomes a time of just “Xmas”, and what’s that?

It’s OK to allow a child to believe in Santa to let them know it’s OK to believe in something greater than what you see around you every day.  It’s OK to promote Santa to your kids in order to set the stage for believing in something greater later on in life.  It’s OK to allow Santa to give hope to a child that’s sick, or joy to a child in want, or happiness even to a child of privilege.  It’s OK to lift up a man from a place far away as the bringer of good tidings to allow the child to embrace as an adult another man from a place far away as the bringer of even greater tidings.  Santa can be from the North Pole.  The person you want your child to later accept is from Heaven. 

The Bible teaches us to receive Jesus with “faith as a little child”.  We believe what we cannot see.  That’s faith.  Isn’t that much like what a child does when they believe in Santa?  Perhaps it’s OK to accept Santa as a child to later accept Jesus with the same child-like faith, excitement, and passion.  Oh, but if more Christians today were as excited about Jesus as their children are about Santa!

One can enjoy Christmas movies and Christmas books, even if about fictional characters like Santa, because the majority of them portray a happy ending, the prevalence of good in a world gone bad, and a degree of joy to those watching or reading.  Enjoying Santa in a book made it easier for me to later enjoy Jesus in a book.  One story is a fable.  The other is the greatest story, the greatest TRUE story, ever told.

Christmas can abound with good food and drink to prepare us for greater food and drink.  Jesus is the “bread of life” and the “living water”. 

It’s OK for people to share gifts at Christmastime.  We hear about the wise men presenting the child Jesus with precious gifts.  In the first Christmas, the shepherds gave him gifts of adoration as the Messiah, the Savior.  In fact, the greatest gift the world was ever given was presented at that first Christmas.  The birth of Jesus, God’s Son.  The Savior of the world, that came from Heaven to earth.  Jesus, who was born as a babe in a manger, to die as a Savior on a cross.  Jesus, who gave all those who believed on Him and who received his free gift, delivered to them a gift of a better life on earth, and life everlasting in Heaven.  If there ever was a real-life Santa, it’s Jesus.  No man ever gave a gift as did Jesus.  He gave Himself for you, and for me.

So, what’s Christmas all about?  We can enjoy “It’s a Wonderful Life” in a movie to realize the wonderful life that God has given us all through his son Jesus.  We can give gifts to others because of the gift that God gave us in Jesus.  We can sing wonderful songs at Christmas because Jesus puts a song in our hearts.  We can endure the masses at the malls to enjoy the time alone in adoration of Christ in the privacy of our bedroom.  We can eat good food now that doesn’t come close to the “bread of life” in Jesus.  The enjoyment we get from reading a children’s Christmas story doesn’t compare to the joy we gain from reading God’s Holy Bible.  The stories of Santa pave the way for the stories of Jesus.  We can be nice to others because of the love for mankind that God put in our hearts.  We can share because Jesus shared.  We can give because Jesus gave.  We can enjoy Christmas because we know what Christmas is all about.  Christmas is all about Christ.  Jesus, the Son of God.  Who was born on earth as a child in a manger, to die on earth as a Savior on a cross, but rose to live forever to prepare for us a home in Heaven. 

The greatest gift you will ever receive is to accept Jesus, the Christ, as your Lord and your Savior.  Believe what He did for you at that first Christmas, and what He did for you that first Easter, and what He will do for you every day of your life.  You once believed in Santa.  Now believe in Jesus.  Embrace the greatest gift imaginable this Christmas.  Embrace the gift of Jesus.

The greatest present you will ever give another is to share with them the true meaning of Christmas.  Tell them about Jesus.

“Ho-ho-ho” is a joyful, happy laugh.  Coming from the belly of a joyful, happy man.  This Christmas season, we all need a little “ho-ho-ho”.  Realize what we have in Christ, the meaning of Christmas.  Christ, the reason for the season.  Christ, the lover of our soul.  Once we realize the significance of Christmas, then the joy will overcome us much as the heart grew on the old Grinch.  We will be at peace.  We will be happy.  We may even burst out in a hearty “ho-ho-ho”.

Merry Christmas! Ho-ho-ho!

Greg Quinn