My youngest is eight years old and all throughout this season I’ve been a bit melancholy. I suspect this is the last Christmas where she’ll believe in Santa, and it makes me a little sad. I’m frankly surprised we made it to this age with that magic intact.

In years ahead there will still be the shaking of packages throughout the season and Christmas mornings filled with anticipation, but it won’t be the same when there’s no one one remaining who believes. In some ways it will be better – I truly envy those of you posting pictures of fancy dinners with wine with your adult children. ONE DAY, I think, each time I see one of your photos, as I sip hot chocolate after a meal that included french fries.

Earlier this month, I had a few long seconds of panic and thought this would end up being the year that the magic of Santa disappeared. Audrey came home from school and announced that not everyone in her class believes in Santa. My heart sank. I knew it was coming, and I really should have been prepared. But unprepared, and way outside of my comfort zone, I gave an answer that I had not thought about or considered all the positives and negatives of. I winged it, or whatever the right tense of winged is. (Wung it?)

You know how not everyone believes in God? That Jews believe in God but not really Jesus and Muslims believe in a different god and some people don’t believe in any god? Not everyone believes in Santa. We believe in Santa and we believe in Jesus.

And then I waited another very long few seconds while she considered my answer. “Oh. OK.” And then off she went on her hover-board.

So simple, really. She just accepted my answer and moved on. For about a minute I thought I was Mom of the year. I had successfully avoided a Christmas season “what do you mean there’s no Santa?!” catastrophe, and I had answered her in a grown up way with grown up words. And then came the internal panic: What the hell did I just do? Why, why, why did I do that? Why would I compare Santa to Jesus and connect God and faith and Santa? Dumb, dumb, dumb. Once she loses faith in Santa then she might she lose faith in Jesus.

THIS is why I am person who likes to be prepared and who likes to think about what she believes. I cannot handle all of the tragic possibilities of winging it. The reason I obsess about thinking about why I think something and what I should say about something is to avoid situations exactly like this. UGH.

A full 24 hours passed before I realized that I once believed in Santa and Jesus, and I still believe in Jesus. And that’s true for millions of other people as well, so probably it’ll all be OK.

At a craft fair at the start of this season, I picked up a sign that I love. It has Give Thanks on one side and Believe on the other, and it’s a perfect fit in our farmy antique-filled family room.

I’ve stared at it many evenings this month thinking about what I actually believe about some things. What I actually believe is most important. How I show the girls what things are really important, and how I convey why I believe the way I do about everything from abortion to Noah’s flood and ark. Because I believe that one of my greatest responsibilities as a parent is to show them that I really think about what I believe and that they should, too. They need to think about what they see and experience and think and believe, and about the why – not just believe what I believe. And I want them to know that God, I believe, delights in us even when we have doubts and we’re not sure what we think, and He encourages our learning and our thought processes.

Jesus said to doubting Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

It doesn’t say Jesus was frustrated or exasperated or at the end of his rope with all of Thomas’ questions. It says he asked Thomas to touch Him, to seek the answers to his questions. Jesus wanted to help Thomas find the proof he needed.

I believe in Christmas. And I believe in love. I believe that the story of Christmas is a story of a parent’s love, a spouse’s love, a family’s love, a neighbor’s love, and a child’s love.

I believe in the magic of Santa and of elves, and of tooth fairies and of Easter bunnies. I believe they have made countless children smile over the centuries and I believe in and love the power of that.

I believe in reciprocity. The world gives back what you put out there. The more you give, the more you will be given. You reap what you sow, which can be either ominous or glorious.

I believe that when you don’t know what to do, the thing you should do above all is simply plant. Sow seeds. Positive seeds. And, I believe in what Elsa has to say on this topic: just do the next right thing.

I believe our choices always reveal our priorities and our character.

I believe in healing. The kind that comes in miraculous God-moments, the kind worked by doctors and caregivers, the kind that comes with time, the kind that comes with travel and in amusement parks where we just let ourselves have fun and relax, and the kind that comes while driving along country roads with the windows down and the radio on.

I believe effort, not time, heals some, but not all, wounds. Those who have been wounded can choose help and choose healing, or they can choose to focus on pain or disappointment or self. Faith is what can heal all wounds.

I believe words have power. It’s why I held a chubby little baby and whispered, “Audrey Grace is cancer free” thousands of times before it was actually true, it’s why I like to mention how smart or clever my girls are when I also comment on their appearance, and it’s why I keep journals – an outpouring of words reveals what I truly think in a way nothing else can.

And I believe in the voice of music and art and doodles. Specifically that they can reveal to us and others what we think and what we believe and what’s important. I love that Ella’s go-to music isn’t something you’d hear a snippet of on TikTok, but it’s worship music. I love that Audrey’s journal and sketch pad are filled with heart doodles and words of affirmation.

This morning I sat down at our desk to check all my notes for today and found a doodle Audrey left behind. It speaks volumes about what’s in that little 8-year old heart and mind, and it was like getting a Christmas card from heaven.

I believe and am thankful that God is constantly and patiently working to reveal Himself to every doubting Thomas, that He’s constantly present in my daughter’s lives, and that He’s constantly maneuvering ways to calm the hearts and minds of Mommas like me who fret too much.

This isn’t the last year for Santa or for Elf on the Shelf or for Jesus. Just because we all eventually learn that our parents buy all the Santa gifts doesn’t mean we don’t believe in Santa. We choose what we believe, about literally everything, whether we actively think about it or not. And this house believes.

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