We were in the hospital the past few days with Grayson (stomach bug and dislodged feeding tube) so I’m late posting the kids’ Santa (Grandaddy) letters this year. I think these letters just might be my favorite Christmas tradition.
What a big year for you! I see you are sporting a new house, new school, new glasses, and a missing tooth! The IT elves have entered all this new information into our Windows 10 database – what I am happy to see for myself is what has not changed – your sweet spirit, genuine smile, and ability to receive love. Grayson, this season is a confusing mixture of universal truth and meaningless platitudes, and of the best and worst of communities. But you my friend, have it figured out. You are loved.
Speaking of platitudes, the one that I have had trouble processing during this time of year is “tis better to give than to receive”. First, unless you are a lifelong resident of one of the ten counties that make up the Scottish Highlands, do not use the word “tis”. It’s a clumsy attempt to introduce an unnecessary contraction without paying the price of an apostrophe. Second, if giving really is so great I would be earning more than minimum wage at my mall gigs.
More to the point, remember what I have been telling you in these letters since you were a baby. Christmas is all about receiving. The world was in darkness and without hope. God brought light to the world in the form of a Savior. That Savior is Christ the Lord. He does not need an Occulus Rift virtual reality set. He is reality. All we need to do is receive Him. Grayson shows us how.
Merry Christmas, my accomplished friend. Keep up the good work.
I save copies of all my letters because they connect me to the trajectories of great lives. I still have the letters I wrote to little Neil Armstrong (I brought him a truck!), young Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis), and Mary Daly (challenger of convention with insightful feminist theology).
Charlotte, the greatest gift I can give to you is encouragement. You already have many gifts that equip you for a life of accomplishment and significance. You are articulate, intelligent beyond measure, and energetic. You question the status quo and have a rapidly developing sense of justice. You are a boundary pusher (we still need to work on what boundaries) and celebrator of big visions. I know that God has big plans for you, and a purpose.
As you know from my previous letters, Christmas is about purpose. In the most intentional act since creation itself, the Lord of the Universe chose to dwell in covenant with his people, among his people. That purpose brought us eternal life (the good news!) and the opportunity to glorify God with our gifts. Those are the themes of “Hark the Herald Angels”, which I have head you sing on Facebook – glory to God, opportunity, and encouragement.
I know that when you wake up you will accept the gifts I have brought with your usual joy and enthusiasm. Use them to continue growing during the year to come. I look forward to following your journey.
Merry Christmas! I hope you are getting a sense of what that means. You were around for the festivities last year, but probably did not take in much as you were only a few months old. I visited you last Christmas, but in your old house. Now that you are able to walk around you can get a better view of the Christmas landscape – lights, music, non-native foliage, food, and gifts.
Regarding food, the proper meal for Christmas day was codified for us by a nineteenth century author named Charles Dickens. It’s essential Christmas elements are goose and plum pudding. Dickens was a visionary, who foresaw the special relationship between Britain and America. That is why the rest of the meal is standard American fare – bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, overcooked green beans, and gravy made as salty, but otherwise as tasteless, as possible. Sadly, must Americans substitute turkey for goose, reflecting the massive agricultural / industrial complex that services both Thanksgiving and Christmas. My educational point here is that whenever your family asks you to vote on a menu for Christmas dinner, vote for goose.
The gift side of the season will come into focus as you continue to grow. It used to be that I was the only game in town, but over time my North Pole attorneys have negotiated strategic alliances with grandparents and a company named Amazon. That’s a good thing, like NASA contracting low earth orbit supply deliveries to SpaceX. It frees me to focus on helping children understand real gift of Christmas, Emmanuel, God with Us. Among all the custom and tradition, never forget that Christmas itself is a gift, that gift is holy and eternal, and it is for you.
Nolan, my wish for you this year is that you experience the joy of growing, as the Bible says, in wisdom and stature. You are privileged to be able to associate with people of many different life backgrounds, economic circumstances and medical outlooks. Embrace them and learn for them, for they, too, have received the gift of Christmas. I will be watching and cheering you on.