I recently learned a pretty grown-up holiday lesson from my 12-year-old.
While we were decorating, I asked my son what his favorite Christmas memory was. It could’ve been any number of insane gifts he’d gotten, or some wild Elf on the Shelf antics. Or maybe even the eternal drama we created every year trying to get our Christmas card picture taken. No, I was pretty sure that he’d tell me the story about how we almost ran over Santa.
We were about to leave my brother-in-law’s house as the Christmas Eve party was winding down. The kids were very concerned about getting home and into bed before Santa arrived. There wasn’t even enough time to wait to say goodbye to our host. He’d vanished somewhere into the house, no doubt getting some last-minute wrapping done.
After we loaded everything into the car and everyone was strapped up, I went to pull away from the curb when a shadowy figure, dressed in red crossed in front of the car. The kids all shouted in unison, “Oh my God! Dad! It’s Santa Claus! You almost hit him!”
Luckily for all involved, it wasn’t really that close. But the point was made — we had to get home right away, because old Saint Nick was right here! There would be no leisurely drive home to enjoy the various decorations of the season. “Drive fast, dad, but be careful! Santa’s already here, and you already almost hit him once!”
Who knew that Santa could be such a careless pedestrian - with such impeccable timing?
We arrived home without another sighting and the kids never forgot it.
But there was something that made an even bigger impression on my son.
My son’s favorite Christmas memory was the year Santa brought his sister a hamster. He was 7. It wasn’t a gift he got.
“Why was it that one?”
“Because I remember how much joy I saw on her face.”
It’s not about Santa. It’s not about what you get. It’s about the joy of the people you love.