A Special Santa Memory

Santa visited our home every year on Christmas Eve. Jesus always came first. The children’s program was always on Christmas Eve. We learned our “piece” for the story and hoped we wouldn’t forget the important Bible verse when our time came to speak. I think I remember being an angel a time or two. After singing the beautiful Christmas carols and sharing much Christmas joy with friends we headed home. Santa had always been there while we were at church. Mom and Dad convinced us we were one of his first stops. He needed to start early to get all the gifts delivered. Even as a small child, I believed he must just have a whole lot of helpers!

You may find the subject of Santa a controversial one. I understand and respect your choice. Still, I would like to share a special memory of Santa that our parents used as a teaching moment about Jesus. This is a true story and was first published in Remembering Christmas, an anthology of little Christmas stories compiled by Yvonne Lehman in 2019. All proceeds benefited Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that is dear to my heart. (Ordering info below.)


He’s Always Watching
by Lynn U. Watson
On a cold December evening, our family gathered for dinner around the shiny chrome and green Formica table. Mom, an excellent cook, served a dish ranked on the lower end of our satisfaction meter. If my six-year-old memory serves me well, she made hash. Her version included Sunday’s left-over pot roast shredded and mixed with mashed potatoes. Both of those, delicious alone, combined they were a bland version of yuck my 3-year-old brother and I refused to appreciate.
In our home, you ate what was placed in front of you – without complaining. My much older and more mature self reluctantly and silently swallowed the stuff, but Johnny chose to gag on it, spit it out, swoosh it with milk, and cry. No amount of talking, reasoning (the best you can with an unhappy toddler), or threats changed the situation. He left the table hungry. I helped Mom clean up the mess. Dad went on about his business.
Part of the reasoning our parents used at the dinner table reminded us, “Santa watches all the time. He knows everything you’re doing. He is sad when boys and girls don’t eat their dinner, and he makes a naughty mark by your name on his list. You don’t want Santa to miss our house this year because you’re not acting very nice, do you?”
A short time later I played with my dolls and Johnny pushed cars and trucks around the living room floor. Mom busied herself setting up the coffee pot for the next morning. Startled by something hitting the dining room window, Mom called to Dad. When he didn’t respond, she made her way to check on the disturbance herself.
The stir roused Johnny’s and my attention as well. She tried to hide her amusement, but Mom’s facial expression made it clear something interesting was going on out there. She motioned my brother and me to the window. Crouched next to the bushes, none other than Santa Claus with his sack slung over one shoulder looked up at us. We stared not believing what we were seeing. Santa frowned, raised his hand, pointed his finger, and shook it. Johnny ate every bite of every meal from then until Christmas. We both acquired a bit of healthy fear of how our behavior may affect the number of gifts under the tree.

The rest of the story:
Presents circled the tree when we arrived home from the Christmas Eve service. It was evident Santa kept short accounts of our wrongs. My parents took advantage of this teaching moment. “Jesus also sees everything we do. When you’re tempted to disobey your parents, God sees and is saddened. When you think you can get away with something, because no one else may see it or know it, God knows it. Just like Santa forgave you, God forgives our wrongs too. Because of your love for your parents and for your Heavenly Father, choosing to do the right thing is always best.”
Years later we learned Dad donned the Santa costume that night. I remind my family of the lesson this way. “If you would be ashamed to listen to a certain song, participate in a certain activity, say certain words, be unkind, etc., with Jesus in the room, then it’s best not to do it. Jesus is always in the room. He sees all we do. He loves us, and we love Him, too. Let’s let our love and gratefulness for Him motivate us to choose well, set a higher standard for ourselves, and be a good example for others.”


Remembering Christmas (published by Grace Publishing) available here.


Copyright 2022, Lynn U. Watson

, , , , , ,