Cookies For Santa
We always put out milk and
cookies for Santa,” he says. He looks more like an elf than a little boy. He has a Pee-Wee Herman face and an Alfalfa
hair style. He stands as tall as a five year old, and he’s eight.
“You do?” I ask,
making sure he knows I’m listening. Foster kids have this fear of disappearing. Of not mattering to anyone.
“Yeah, but the first
year we didn’t have any money so we couldn’t do it.”
“And last year, we
only had a little money, so we just put out milk.”
“So this year…”
“This year can I put
out cookies and milk for Santa, just like we do at home?”
Makes your heart ache, huh?
Of course, he has a sizable
list for Santa. Nineteen presents is what he asked for. He doesn’t care what’s in them…it’s the quantity
that counts. He expects a lot out of Christmas. And he wants to make sure the old guy is in a good mood. Cookies and milk.
Oh, I’ve gotten to
the age when I don’t care what I get under the tree, how much or how little. And I don’t believe in Santa Claus.
But I expect
more than nineteen presents from Christmas.
I want a miracle or two.
I want Christmas to fix everything
for everyone, including myself.
I want Christmas to warm
my heart. To make me more sensitive and caring. To stuff my temper away with the snow batting I threw out this year when I
put up the Christmas village.
I want to get through this
year without needing to steal away for a private cry.
I want God to give me one
more minute to hold my son and tell him I love him.
And I want to wake up as
warm-spirited on the day after Christmas as I was the day before it.
Because I know that the day
after Christmas, bills will still be due.
People will still get sick.
Families will squabble.
I’ll blow up at something,
sometime, and say something I don’t mean.
And I’ll steal out
to the cemetery for a good cry.
We expect Christmas to change
our lives, and it usually doesn’t.
The “Chestnuts roasting
on an open fire” coziness doesn’t last.
So what did we think?
”Jesus is the Reason
for the Season,” we say. Just for this season?
Keep Christ in Christmas,”
churches post on their marquees. Just at Christmas?
Although on one night, God
sent a gift that changed the world, the world didn’t change in one night.
Christmas has to have a “take-away”
value, or it is of no use at all.
We need to sing, “Jesus
is the Reason,” and leave it at that.
And the marquee in front
of churches should read,” Keep Christ.”
I said I don’t believe
in Santa Claus, and I don’t. Not really. But I don’t “not believe,” either. I believe we prepare our hearts for Christmas.
We open ourselves to the
possibilities of Christmas:
That we will
act more like the people we wish other people were.
That we will really love
our brothers and our sisters and an enemy or two.
That God really does care
for us enough to come down and live among us.
We need to expect Him.
So I’m going to read
the Christmas story again, and then John nineteen, where the Bible tells me about the crucifixion. And finally, I’ll
read John 14: 1-3.
After that, I think I’ll
bake some cookies. I wonder which kind Old Santa likes.
By Caryl Harvey
“Let us now go unto Bethlehem and
That’s what the shepherds
said after the angel told them about Jesus’ birth.
And they went.
In the nativity scenes, they’re
young and strong. He-men. But I’ll bet there was a gray head somewhere in the bunch. I’ll bet some of them had
arthritis. Heel spurs. A cold. I’ll bet at least one of them was a worry wart: who’s going to watch over those
sheep while we’re gone?
I’ll bet it cost them
something to go. It was a sacrifice.
But they didn’t believe
it was optional to go and “see this thing which has come to pass.”
So they went.
And God blessed them for going.
They were the first to see the newborn King.
They got close to God. Really
close. Close enough to touch the I Am.
And when they went back to their
sheep, the flock was where they left it. The lambs nestled close to the ewes. The rams stood guard. Their jobs were still there.
Until Jesus comes back, there
are going to be weddings and funerals and jobs to go to. Rich people and poor people and those in between, trying to make
Arthritis and heel spurs and
colds and fatigue.
But when we have the opportunity
to touch God, to get really close to the I Am,
We need to go to Bethlehem…and
GETING DRAWERS TO SHUT
by Caryl Harvey
Every once in a while, God calls me “Cookie.”
As in, “Listen up, Cookie.” Or, "Hey Cookie, get back here. You know better than that.”
Yesterday, we celebrated our family Thanksgiving
early. I made turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and cinnamon apples. Our grown daughters brought their families
and their contributions to the meal…relish plates and sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole and salads and
rolls and fruit and three kinds of pie. A big meal.
And …to make a great day perfect,
we celebrated on a Sunday, which at our house means the teens and adolescents clean the kitchen after the meal.
They didn’t have to mess with the
food…we divvy up the leftovers before everyone goes home. But then, the kitchen needs cleaned again. And that’s
when God got my attention.
I was unloading the dishwasher when my
2 ½ year old granddaughter Hailey came into the kitchen. She saw the open dishwasher and made a bee-line for it, intent on
helping me. No, that’s not right exactly. Her mind was set on doing it herself. She reached for the flatware holder
and grabbed a handful of knives and forks. Half of them landed on the floor. (Five second rule.) She retrieved them. Her mommy stepped up behind her and tried to help. Hailey pulled away and threw the
silverware into the silverware drawer. Then she grabbed another handful from the dishwasher.
It was obvious to us she was determined
to do the job her way. (And honestly, I was laughing too hard to stop her.) We let her finish. But after she went home, someone had to sort out the drawer. It wouldn’t even close. And as our teen
granddaughter and I worked to straighten it, I distinctly (in my heart) heard God say, “Hey Cookie…”
“Notice anything about what just
happened with Hailey?”
“Yeah. She’s a hoot, isn’t
“So are you.”
“Beg your pardon, Lord?”
“So are you. You know that problem
you’ve been working on with one of your kids?”
“Well, I’ve really been working
hard on it and I know we’ll make it. It’s just going to take a while and…”
“But what if you’re wrong about
how to handle it?”
“Then I’ll try something else.
I won’t let you, or this kid down Lord. I’ll fix this if it kills me.”
“I don’t think it will go all
that far, Cookie. But you’re forgetting something. ME. I can help with this problem, but you’ll have to stand
back and be willing to wait a bit.”
And then I realized what God was saying.
I wanted things fixed. Right now. And in that frame of mind, I often say things I don’t mean…or at least that
I don’t think through.
I know never to make promises. I make them
I know not to argue… it makes things
worse. I argue anyway…sometimes loudly.
I know not to give in if my boundaries
are reasonable. I give in for the sake of peace.
I take things personally and get my feelings
In the long run, I mess things up. I need to pray about the problem. I need to sit back and “study on” the
issue. To anticipate the consequences of my actions. Because, when I just rush ahead and toss a handful of poorly thought out and even more poorly executed solutions
into the “drawer” of my kids’ lives, God (or someone He sends to clean up after me) has to sort things out.
Because, otherwise—by myself—I
can never get that “drawer” to shut.