Santa Letters 2017

As he does every year, my dad writes all his grandkids letters from Santa on Christmas. These are some of my favorite words I read all year. 

Dear Grayson,

Well, here I am again! All I can say is “ho Ho ho”! You have had a really eventful year and I am glad I can leave you some gifts to celebrate.I see by your Permanent Record (I am one of the few who have access to it, given the naughty and nice analyses required by my work) that you have finished the first semester of the first grade! Grayson, what you have learned is remarkable and important, but it is those things that you continue to teach us that bring you honor and our appreciation. Your sweet spirit reminds us of how another recipient of tough circumstances, Mary, embraced the role that God gave her. Poor, with child, assailed by stiff-necked judgment, she proclaimed 

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,….

Luke 1: 46 – 47 (have your parents read on through verse 55. Lots of good blog material there.)

 Later, another group of stiff-necked Pharisees asked the child she bore about a blind man.

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

John 9:1-3

 Grayson, the greatest gift I can leave you with is to remind you that you were also born to magnify God, and that the works of God are most definitely displayed in you. The world will not go backward. Light will shine in the darkness and the rough places will be made straight.  

Your biggest fan,

Santa
Dear Charlotte, 

Well, once again I have accomplished the miracle of making it down a chimney half the diameter of my waistline. It’s like the promise of Christmas. The Lord of the Universe breaks through impossible separation to deliver the ultimate gift of His presence among us.

Soon you will be five, so you are old enough to begin knowing more about me. I am certainly not the Lord of the Universe, nor am I Christmas, although some people would like to assign me that role. I am simply an expression of, as the Victorians used to say, “good tidings” during this season of celebration. That’s why I am also around for Thanksgiving, Advent, Hannakah, Kwanza, and almost every year-end sales event in America. My favorite is Christ the King Sunday, the last day of the church liturgical calendar before it starts again with Advent. That’s when we look forward to the fulfillment of the Christmas promise, when

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

So don’t tell me we shouldn’t celebrate “The Holidays”!  

Charlotte, you are one of the smartest and most articulate children on my list. You are a keen observer of life and a proclaimer of what you see. My earnest wish for you is what you see is truth and what you proclaim is promise. There will always be those who fear the future and would like us to retreat to the past. But every word of our Bible tells us differently. As long I leave you these Christmas letters I will remind you: The past is darkness and the future is Emmanuel, God With Us. That is good tidings!

 Love always,

Santa
Dear Nolan,
I have divided my list of all the children in the world into three categories of experience: Rookie, Apprentice and Veteran. With your infant and toddler Christmases behind you, congratulations on your promotion to Apprentice! You are now able to begin considering some deeper concepts – like The Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Second Law is about what things happen spontaneously and what outcomes require work. One thinks about that a lot when looking down on the world from a flying sleigh.

The good news for you is that the usual state of your play room is not your fault. The Second Law tells us that the inexorable direction of the universe is toward disorder! Putting the blocks back in the box requires work, and they will never stay there. Tell your parents that it’s not a mess, it’s energy minimizing diversity.

Nolan, there are lots of people in this world who want nothing more than to put the blocks back in the box. They want to build walls, hoard privilege, and define who is worthy of playing with the blocks and who is not. And they are working hard at it.

The problem for them, and the good news for the rest of us, is that the inevitable direction of the universe is Emmanuel, God With Us. God sent us a Savior to break down the wall that separated us from Her and to proclaim that the first shall be last and the last first. Salvation brings us God’s economy of abundance where there is plenty for everybody, and where compassion and grace are celebrated rather than feared . If that were not true, I would not be flying over all those walls with a bulging sack every year!

So Merry Christmas Nolan! Take these toys and spread them to the far corners of the earth! Continue adding your robust voice to the choir of angels! Diversity is our advantage! God is with us!

 Love,

Santa

Read all past Santa letters HERE

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Santa Letters 2016

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. 


Dear Grayson,

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.


Love,
Santa

Dear Charlotte,  

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.

Love,
Santa


Dear Nolan,

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.


 Love,
Santa

Santa Letters 2015

Every Christmas, my dad writes letters from “Santa” to all his grandchildren. This is one of my favorite traditions, and I know the kids will love reading these sweet words some day. Here are this year’s three letters:

Dear Grayson,

It is my great privilege to again be with you this Christmas Eve.  Being Santa is the greatest job in the world, but one of the compromises is that I can only be with my special friends while they sleep.  If we were to start talking and playing and carrying on I would never get to everybody.  So I am jotting down some thoughts on your parents’ laptop that I hope will stay with you until I come again next Christmas.

And I will come again, because Christmas is a promise.  God promised us that we would never be without Him, and he came personally to prove it.  Christmas comes in good times and bad, whether we are happy or sad or naughty or nice.  It causes me to ho ho ho when I hear people say that Christmas sneaks up on them, before they are ready.   None of us are ever ready, which is why the gift we are given is called Emmanuel – God wit love, and you show us that with your patience, sweet spirit, and especially by never being afraid. Your journey has taken you through valleys too numerous to count, but you show us that every valley, every valley, shall be exalted!  

Merry Christmas Grayson.  See you next year.
Santa



Dear Charlotte,

I thought of you over Germany when Dancing Queen came through my Beats by Dre wireless headphones. Orderliness may not be your thing, but joyful celebration surely is – joyful celebration and verbalizing the obvious.  Some people have the job of tending flocks by night.  Others get to shake them up by proclaiming “Glory to God in the Highest”.  There is no doubt as to your calling, Charlotte.

Make no mistake, Christmas Eve is all about disruption and stating the obvious.  Yes, the night we remember did start out silent, but only because there was nothing to say.  Everybody walked in darkness because their sin left them no choice.

Then, suddenly, there was a little child who would have a lot to say.  Some were not happy about His coming, but choirs of angels were, not to mention camels, sheep, wise men and even the stars in the sky.  The obvious had arrived.  The Word had become flesh.

I know that you are just beginning to understand all that – but what you were created for is fully formed.  You were made to bring energy and truth to the world.  You were made to discover and to proclaim.  I know.  I am Santa.  I check everything twice. 

So enjoy what I brought you and tell everybody about it in a thousand words or more.  Create a mess and rejoice in it.  Above all, state the obvious.  Joy to the World! 

Ho ho ho!  Merry Christmas Charlotte!   
Santa



Dear Nolan

Welcome first timer!  It would seem that you should be welcoming me, as I am standing in your house, for goodness sake.  But that’s not how it works on this particular evening.  You are about to experience the greatest tradition of our world, celebrating the now eternal covenant between God and Man. 

First, some basics.  I am Santa Clause, the gift guy.  I bring gifts to children all over the world as a symbol of the God’s gift of salvation, about which you will keep learning as long as you live.  I spend most of the year at the North Pole making gifts with a staff of elves, which I deliver every year on this evening via sleigh, even though most of the world’s children live in warm climates without snow.  Every year I come to South Texas to replicate how Northern Germans celebrate an event that occurred in the Middle East.  Go figure. 

Regarding Christmas tradition and celebration, here are some other things you should know.

·         The official dates are December 24 (Christmas Eve) and December 25 (Christmas Day)

·         Everybody pauses from their work and school activities

·         Lots of decorations are put up.  You have probably noticed the lights

·         You have probably also heard the seasonal music.  Get used to it.  The Christmas music canon was permanently closed when Julie Andrews stopped singing with the London Philharmonic

·         Families gather

·         Lots of food is served

·         Everyone says Merry Christmas before the day and Happy New Year after  

 

As to why we do all this stuff, it’s all summed up in a single phrase in a book by which your parents are raising you.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

That Savior’s name is Jesus, Nolan.  He is the Lord of the Universe.  The fact that He came to us that evening is why I am able to watch you sleep on this evening.  You need never be afraid.

 So, I hope you enjoy what I have brought you.  Playing with the wrapping paper should be fun as well.  I will be back next year, and every year thereafter with more to this story.  Merry Christmas, Nolan!
 
Santa

 

Letters from Santa 2014

Every year, my dad Santa Claus writes the kids letters. These letters are one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Enjoy!

 
 
From the Desk of Santa Claus

                                  December 24, 2014                                     

 Dear Grayson:

Well, here we are together again, on your fifth Christmas.  After five Christmas Eve visits (and four years of checking up on you) I hope my visit is expected.  I look forward to it all year.

As you know, I live at the North Pole.  I got there because I am a citizen of all countries of the world, and the North Pole is one of the few places on earth that everyone owns together.  A North Pole residence comes with a few perks, like my own post office, and its gets quite busy when the elves arrive after Thanksgiving.  (Most people don’t know it, but the elves are contractors who rotate with the seasons. As soon as they finish with my gift list they move to China to make Chinese New Year lanterns and dragons, then on to Guatemala to make pinatas for Cinco de Mayo, then to Germany where they help with Oktoberfest.)  But mostly the North Pole is cold.  And dark.  And lonely.  It’s a place I never expected to live, and would not, except for what I have been called to be. 

What makes it tolerable is the lights.  Even during those long stretches when the sun is hidden, the sky is alive with dancing, streaming lights.  Scientists explain that charged particles from the sun are interacting with the earth’s magnetic field.  I prefer the observation of the prophet Isaiah, that “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”  Isaiah’s light, of course, is the promise of Emmanuel, God With Us.  God is with us, Grayson, you and me.

I know you never expected to live with feeding tubes and seizures, hospital confinements and retching, except for what you have been called to be.  I know it’s hard, and dark, and lonely, but I also know that you, too, see the lights. They stream when your mother sings to you and your father boosts you and your sister hugs you.  They dance when Mary comforts you and Grammie kisses you and Granddaddy pushes you up the hill at the ranch. God is with us, Grayson, you and me. The Christ Child who was born this night makes it so.

So, Grayson, know that I was here this evening, as I will be every year.  Know that there will always be something in my sack for you.  I think of you often, every time I see the lights.

Love,

Santa

 

 

Dear Charlotte,

What’s with the staying awake so long?  You know my whole itinerary is based on children being asleep when I arrive!  I had to make a mid-course correction over Luxembourg and swap the order of two Canadian provinces while you were resisting bed time.
I guess it’s because you are just like me – places to go, things to do.  Let’s see, since last year you have been  walking and talking, counting and talking, singing the family song and talking, and naming your colors, shapes, and animals.  Not to mention talking.
The Christ Child who was born this night also did these things. The Bible says he “grew in wisdom and stature”.  God made sure of it because that Child was born to be the savior of the world.
Charlotte, you too were born for a wonderful purpose. I see it in your energy and your intelligence and the twinkle that is always in your eyes.  I see it in your curiosity and your persistence.  I see it in the laughter that follows wherever you go. But mostly I see it in your heart.  You are a loving young lady who knows she is loved.  You were given to us all by the Architect of the Universe who delights in your enthusiasm as His plans for you unfold.
As you might expect, Mrs. Claus and I must be very selective about the pictures we put on our refrigerator.  One reason is that we receive so many pictures, another is that we do not need a very large refrigerator at the North Pole.  We will always make a place, however, for the picture of you hugging your brother Grayson.  You know that Grayson is a special child of God, and you are special for being such a caring, loving sister.
When your parents read this to you it will be Christmas day, and another visit from Santa and his reindeer will have been accomplished.  Soon the food will be eaten and the decorations put away, but I know that the memories will remain.  Until next year, Charlotte, I’ll be watching as you grow in wisdom and stature.
Your friend,
 Santa
 

 

 

Letters to Charlotte: 23 Months

Dear Charlotte,

Oh my Charnado, here we are- you are almost 2! When people ask me how old you are these days, I always answer that way- “Almost 2”, because you are most definitely the embodiment of a two year old. You are silly, sweet, defiant and frustrating at times, and full of endless energy. Daily, you make me question what the heck I am doing and doubt my abilities as your mother, yet fill me with so much joy and pride. I am so proud of you. You are incredibly smart, verbal, and caring. I love you so, so much.

At 23 months:

  • I’m not exactly sure how much you weigh because I forgot to weigh you before we left for the ranch yesterday, but I think you’ve lost weight since last month. You gave up your bottle cold turkey about a month ago and have slimmed down noticeably. You also have way less wet diapers, but are still drinking plenty of water. 
  • Since you slimmed down some, you are mostly wearing 24 month clothing, especially pants, and 2T tops. You are still in size 5 shoes and size 5 diapers. 
  • You now have a mouth full of teeth. 
  • You have developed a love for art, which makes me so happy. You spend a lot of time each day coloring with crayons, and your teachers tell me you are always the most enthusiastic about the craft projects you do at school. I can’t wait to see what Santa brings you this year- hint, hint. 
  • We have developed a new little bedtime routine since you gave up the bottle. Mary (Grayson’s nurse) gives you a shower, then you and me go upstairs and read a few books (You have The Very Hungry Caterpillar memorized and can almost quote it word for word). After that we talk about our “super fun day”- we go through all the things we did that day, and then we say your prayers and sing a few songs. You still get very upset with me most nights when I actually put you in your crib, but after a few minutes of screaming, settle down and go to sleep. 
  • You say the funniest/cutest things. A few of my current faves:
    • You think all pants are “jeggings”. You were wearing jeggings one day and I told you that’s what they were and it stuck in your head. The greatest is when you point out “Daddy’s jeggings”
    • When we ask your name, you say “Baker. Charlotte Baker”. We also have Mommy Baker, Daddy Baker and GG Baker in our house. 
  • You love Daniel Tiger, and so do I. It’s really nostalgic to me, since I loved Mr. Rogers Neighborhood as a kid. I probably let you watch way too much of it a day, but Daniel is so sweet and has such good lessons, I’m not too worried about it. 
  • Your favorite Daniel Tiger is the potty episode. You love to talk about the potty, washing your hands, wearing underwear and no more diapers, etc. but have no interest in actually sitting on the potty yourself. 
  • You are starting to be really particular about certain things and have meltdowns when they aren’t done to your specifications. Your water cup, for example- aaaaa! We have more “arguments” about your water than anything else. You beg for animal crackers all day long. Oh, and your gummies and vitamins. You get 4 gummies and 1 vitamin a day- THAT’S IT!

Your birthday is a month away and I don’t know what we are going to do to celebrate, but celebrate YOU we will. Happy 23 months sweet girl, and Merry, Merry Christmas!

Love,
Mommy

Letters to Charlotte: 11 Months

Dear Charlotte,

Today you are 11 months old: one month from today we will celebrate your first year of life. Your babyhood has passed in a blink, and I can hardly believe the speed at which you’ve changed from that tiny newborn who we met last January.

Next week we celebrate your first Christmas! You already have so many toys, books and clothes, but I suspect Santa might be paying you a visit and bringing a few special things that are on your list.

I weighed you this morning- 20 pounds, 4 ounces! This means you have less than a pound to gain before tripling your birth weight- amazing! You wear size 12 month clothing and size 3 diapers. Your hair is long enough now that it can hold a bow clip. I miss your sweet baby headbands, but you want nothing to do with them anymore. The little bows make you look so much more like a little girl rather than a tiny baby.

You are still a fantastic eater and most of the time a really good sleeper. You still nurse, although only at night before bed, in the morning when you wake up, and the times you happen to wake up in the night (which thankfully aren’t many!). You drink 3-4 8 ounce bottles a day and eat 2-3 meals of solid food. Right now, your favorite foods are pears, chicken, cheese, bananas and black beans. You absolutely LOVE black beans. You also share my breakfast with me in the morning, which usually is toast or waffles.

You are learning to talk! This is my favorite thing right now- it’s just incredible to watch you imitate sounds and words. Your words/phrases include “Hi Baby”, “Mama”, “Dadda”, “Bubba” or “Gray” (for Grayson), “Bye Bye”, “Hi”, “Meow” (what does a cat say?), “Rrroar” (what does a tiger say?), and “Na na” (your word for cracker…(??)).

You are STRONG WILLED. Behind these oh-so-cute smiley pictures was an epic meltdown to get you dressed and that sticker put on your onesie, complete with back arching, screaming, and kicking. I am making a conscious effort not to react to your tantrums; I know they are normal and won’t last forever. But sheesh, kid. Not every diaper or wardrobe change has to be a battle. It really doesn’t, you know.

 You aren’t walking yet, but are pulling up on everything (EVERYTHING) and are starting to cruise. We’re taking bets whether or not you’ll be walking by your birthday. In the video below, watch closely- you stand on your own for a few seconds- something you’ve never done before. I’m so excited I caught it on video!

You FINALLY have 2 teeth! Your bottle 2 poked their way through last week, and you had an evening of a high fever as a result. You were so sad, your usually active little self limp and hot on my chest as I held you.

This video pretty much sums you up. You never stop, you love to talk and you are oh so cute.

Happy 11 Months to my little Charnado. I love you to the moon and back.

Love,
Mommy

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas! We’ve had a great few days with family and I’ll share more in a later post, but here are Grayson and Charlotte’s annual letters from Santa, always a highlight of our Christmas.

 

Dear Grayson,

Well, the big night has arrived once again!  I’m here with my sack of presents while the reindeer are waiting with the sleigh on the roof.  I made the mistake of parking on the street while I visited your neighbors and ended up with a fifty dollar ticket!  I love my job, but sometimes it is not easy.

Speaking of tough jobs, being a big brother has got to be near the top of the list.  From what my elves tell me, you have excelled at the three “p”s of big brotherhood – pride, patience, and posing (in matching outfits).  I was also reminded of your fourth “p”, perseverance, when I read about your dapper Beads of Courage appearance in the North Pole newspaper.  I understand there will be more beads to come in January. Grayson, the word courage does not even begin to describe what you are about.

I think that God may have put you and me on this earth for the same reason.  You know, the N. Pole is not the easiest place to live and work, and I am not the youngest or fittest person to be lifting all of those packages.  I have come to realize, however, that God made me a part of Christmas to remind us all that

 
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness

                                                                                                                          2 Corinthians 12:9

 

I can see that power in your mother and father.  Every day you are dressed and groomed.  Every day you are delivered to school.  Every day you are sung to.  Every day you are loved. The fact that you can’t do those things for yourself does not stop them from happening, because it is the will of the God who made us that “my grace is sufficient for you”. 

Many years ago on this night God himself came to earth also knowing that there will be more beads to come.  He spent His life teaching us that those beads are the Kingdom of Heaven.  Merry Christmas, Grayson.
 
Love,

Santa

Dear Charlotte,

Well, here you are at your first Christmas with a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eye.  I am in the gift business, so I know that nothing I can give your family this year can even approach the gift you have been to everybody.  I am also in the twinkle in the eye business and know mischief when I see it.  That’s your word to the wise for next year.

As a first timer on my list, here are the basics.  The world was lost to sin, and God Himself came to save it.  He didn’t come as king, soldier, or even a caregiver.  He came to us an infant, just as you came to us earlier this year. Later on you will learn how He saved us, but on this night all you need to know is that the sky was filled with light and the singing of multitudes of angels.  We give gifts to one another as a reminder of the gift of life that God gave us.

That’s where I come in.  The deal is, I bring presents to you and all of the other children of the world. In return, you leave me snacks.  (No beets, however).  That second part is why I have such a large waist.  I would be impossible for me to get all this done if I were to stop and talk to everybody, so I come when you are sleeping. 

I know that the coming year will again be a big one for you and your family.  God puts children in families so that they may grow in wisdom and stature and has given you a special one for that purpose.  It is my privilege to watch you grow and especially to see you smile.  Merry Christmas.

Love,
Santa