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Snowflakes. Wikimedia.

Unconventional answers

“I know you know!” the seven-year-old insisted.

Large snowflakes melted on the windshield as I drove with my grandson to the pharmacy near our house.

“Pleeease,” he begged. “Just tell me. The kids at school say Santa isn’t real. So, is he or not?”

By Pamela McMilian

The boy’s blue eyes searched my face for some hint of an answer. I remained silent. His mom had passed away in December the year before. I thought of her when she was his age with those same blue eyes. I had three little ones then and no money for Christmas presents. My heart still ached at the memory of how I answered this same question those many years ago. There was no way I would disappoint her son with a quick answer.

“Father,” I silently prayed, “show me how to answer this child and still honor you.”

Aaron asked again, now in a matter-of-fact tone. “Grandma, I know we celebrate Jesus birth at Christmas. But does that mean there’s no Santa? Just tell me the truth.”

I smiled at the persistent kid wanting so much to believe in a jolly gift-giver. Finally, words formed.

“The fact is, Aaron, I can’t tell you. That’s just something kids have to figure out for themselves,” I said, pulling into a parking spot.

He sighed heavily at my non-answer. Inside the store, he lagged several feet behind me, shoulders slumped for good effect, nursing his frustration.

Passing the greeting card aisle, I caught a glimpse of a couple standing elbow to elbow. I looked again. There stood a large, plump-bellied man, peering over his spectacles. He wore a familiar red velvet suit, wide black belt, and black boots. His hair and beard were long and white. The woman next to him was about his age. Her hair nearly as white as her apron, was pulled into a bun. Her ankle-length red dress revealed her black boots and complimented her partner’s attire. They chuckled softly as they read the card together.

I paused, as my grandson caught up to me.

“Hey Aaron, look!” I nodded toward the couple. His eyes grew wide as he whispered.

“Is that them?”

“It looks like it to me. Go ask them,” I said.

He continued whispering, “You go!”

“I can’t, Aaron. Remember? It’s a kid thing.”

“I don’t need to ask them. It’s them!” he announced.

We picked up the few items we came for and oddly, didn’t see the couple again. Aaron kept pace with me returning to the car.

“Wow! Did you see them, Grandma?”

I smiled at his innocence, silently thanking the Lord for his unconventional answer to my prayer. As I drove, I thought about how precious a child’s heart must be to the Lord and how he knows exactly what each of us needs to get through the hard Decembers of life.

A few blocks from the store, a large deer stepped into the street ahead. I braked to a stop as the deer walked toward the car. A few feet from the bumper, it stopped, standing its ground – almost as if proving a point. We watched, stunned, as one-by-one, a small herd of deer emerged from the darkness into the street.

“Ten, eleven…” we tried counting them as they walked in and out of the headlight beams, a dusting of snow glistening on their backs.

“Woah! Grandma, are those their reindeer?”

As the wintery roadblock meandered across the street I grinned.

“The fact is, Aaron, I can’t tell you. It’s just something kids have to figure out for themselves.”

–By Pamela McMilian



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