Remember the magic you used to see in Christmas as a child? If you're like most grown-ups, you see the magic less and less with each passing year. Santa is no longer the symbol of jovial love and warmth you used to see him as, and some years you find it hard to even see the wonder behind the birth of the baby Jesus.
In the story "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry it reads,
"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again."
Do you ever wish you could "un-grow-up" yourself to become a child again? Well, maybe you can. Maybe if you and I remember what we saw and felt as children, the magic of Christmas will be restored to us. After all, "The Little Prince" also says,
"All grown-ups were children first. (But few remember it)".
So, maybe if we remember, then we can truly see again. And I think "The Little Prince" tells us exactly how:
"Here's my secret. It is very simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."
How can we then, as children, see with our hearts this year? For each person, it might be a bit different, but here are 3 simple steps you and I can take to become, as Jesus commanded, like little children.
1. See the excitement in giving
Have you ever had a child give you a gift they picked out and wrapped especially for you? As you tear open the wrapping paper, the excited little one almost can't but help you open the present faster. Eager eyes sparkle with excitement and tiny legs jump up and down in anticipation.
Let us take a lesson from children when it comes to giving. Let us find the excitement in it again. We can do this by taking a small amount of time to really think about what special gifts we can give this year to those we love and to those in need.
Allow your excitement to turn to love as you prepare both the gifts that can be wrapped and opened and also gifts of service that often matter most. Think about what you can give this year—be it a unique surprise for your family they will forever treasure, helping shovel snow off your neighbor's sidewalk or giving a warm meal to a homeless person you pass on the street. Do what you can, and allow the joy of giving back into your soul.
For grown-ups Santa becomes more of a dreaded task, who empties your wallet and deprives you of sleep on Christmas Eve than anything else. Maybe you're tired of the commercialism blanketing what used to be your favorite holiday and you feel this Mr. Claus is the mascot representing everything Christmas shouldn't be.
But how does a child see Santa? Perhaps they do see him as the source of expensive toys and high-fructose candies, but they also see him as a lot more than that. The spirit of Santa Claus is one of giving, joy and love. He symbolizes goodness and equality for all humankind. He travels the globe one night every year to ensure children everywhere know they are remembered and loved, special and important. He values children immensely—something Jesus called His followers to do:
"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of heaven."
In essence, Santa symbolizes what Christmas is all about: Jesus Christ.
3. See Jesus everywhere
As you start to see Santa as a symbol for Jesus, continue to look for Him wherever you can. You'll soon see the holiday is filled with symbols of Jesus if you keep your heart open.
See Him in the colors red and green as you think of his evergreen mercy and crimson blood spilt for you and me. See Him in the cashier who takes time to really listen after she asks you how you're doing. See Him in your spouse who sacrifices so much to support you in your most basic needs. See Him in the homeless you pass on the street who like the Christ child have no bed to lay their heads on the night of Christmas. See Him in your newborn baby as you swaddle him and rock him to sleep, remembering what precious gifts children are.
Renowned airline pilot and humanitarian Dieter Uchtdorf asked,
"Do we also let distractions obstruct our view of the Savior—during this Christmas season and throughout the year? Some are external distractions—the gifts we worry about, the decorations, or the clamorous advertising—but often it is what is inside us that blinds us from seeing the Christ."
Let us try to heal our blindness and remove distractions so we can feel Him all around us this year. Let us see Him as children do so well.