Following is an impromptu “interview” with my 5-year-old daughter about Santa, Jesus, and the real meaning of Christmas. (It gets funnier every time I read it.) In it you will hear the uncensored honesty of a child, and the uncensored efforts of a mother trying to pass on her religious beliefs by asking questions. This isn’t meant to be a sermon on Christianity, but rather a humorous look at the way a child’s mind works and the struggle we often have as mothers to teach our children things they aren’t yet ready to hear, but somehow already know. (Thankfully, I held a similar interview with my 15-year-old daughter and found out that, yes, many things were actually sinking in!)
Mom: What’s your favorite thing about Christmas time?
Rachael: Getting presents from Santa.
Mom: Who’s Santa?
Rachael: His real name is Claus.
Me: Where does he live?
Rachael: The North Pole.
Mom: How did he get there?
Mom: Who does he live with?
Rachael: The elves and Mrs. Claus and the reindeer and Rudolph.
Mom: What do they do all day?
Rachael: The reindeer?
Mom: No, Santa Claus and everybody.
Rachael: Well, he eats his lunch, you know.
Rachael: He eats cookies for lunch. And eats cookies for dinner.
Mom: What kind of cookies?
Rachael: Chocolate chip. That’s his favorite.
Mom: What’s the most important thing about Christmas?
Mom: What about Jesus.
Rachael: I don’t know.
Mom: Maybe it’s Jesus’ birthday?
Rachael: Yes. Exactly!
Mom: What do you know about Jesus.
Rachael: Getting the birth from Mary.
Mom: What do you know about the story of when he was born?
Rachael: The donkey brang Mary to the place where Jesus got borned.
Mom: What else happened that night?
Rachael: The star and the shepherds came.
Mom: Where did they come?
Rachael: To Jesus!
Mom: So there were shepherds, and a star, and a donkey . . . is there anything else you know about the story?
Mom: Do Jesus and Santa know each other?
Rachael: Santa is Jesus’ helper for giving gifts.
Mom: So why was it important that Jesus was born anyway?
Rachael: Because he is God’s son.
Mom: What does he do for us?
Rachael: I forgot, but Santa watches us.
Mom: How does he watch us.
Rachael: From his magic snowball, of course!
Mom: Do you think Santa wears his red suit all year long?
Mom: Well, what do you think he wears then? A suit like daddy wears when he goes to work?
Mom: Jeans and a t-shirt like Will (her older brother) wears to school?
Mom: You think Santa wears a t-shirt and jeans?
Rachael: That’s what he said.
Mom: Do you think Santa ever goes on vacation?
Rachael: He said he went on a summer vacation.
Mom: Where did he go?
Rachael: To Utah. (Where we live.)
Mom: To Utah?
Mom: What do you mean he said he went on a summer vacation? How do you know that?
Rachael: Because he told me.
Mom: When did you talk to Santa?
Rachael: On the train. (We went on the “Polar Express” a few days before this interview and Santa talked with her in our train car.)
Mom: You talked about his vacation on the train?
Mom: How does he keep track of all the kids’ presents?
Rachael: The kids give him cards. To the North Pole.
Mom: You mean letters?
Rachael: Yes! (Exasperated.)
Mom: I know, but that’s a lot of letters. How does he remember which toy goes to which child?
Rachael: He just finds the houses and remembers the name and the age.
Mom: What if someone doesn’t have a chimney?
Rachael: Then he’ll have to go by door.
Mom: Yeah, but what if the door is locked?
Rachael: Aww, forget about locked!
Mom (laughing): Forget about locked?
Mom: Why? Does he have a magic key or something?
Rachael: Yes! (Totally exasperated again.)
Mom: Oh, because he’s Santa.
Rachael (giggles): Yeah, Santa’s magic. Pixie dust is the magic way in.
Mom: Pixie dust is the magic way to get in the locked houses?
Rachael: Yeah. Wow.
Mom: So, do you think Santa has any hobbies?
Rachael: No way he doesn’t!
Mom: Do you know what a hobby is?
Mom: A hobby is something you like to do for fun. Like drawing, or skiing, or reading.
Rachael: Well, he said his favorite thing is skiing his head off.
Mom: That’s what he told you? His favorite thing is skiing his head off? Isn’t he too old to go skiing?
Rachael (laughing): No.
Mom: How old is Santa?
Rachael: I don’t know . . . fifty, or whatever.
Mom: Fifty? You think he’s fifty? That’s only nine years older than me. Do you think I’m almost as old as Santa? (Both of us laughing.) Do you?
Rachael: I think so. You’re older than Santa.
Mom: You think I’m older than Santa?
Mom: But Santa has white hair. I don’t think I’m older than Santa.
Rachael: No, he has gray hair.
Mom: Yeah, so how can I be older than Santa? (I do have gray hair, but she doesn’t know that thanks to my monthly hair appointment.)
Rachael: I forgot how you can get older than Santa. I just got a magic idea, but then I lost it.
Mom: So . . . back to Jesus. You said your favorite thing about Christmas time was getting presents from Santa. But what about giving presents? Is that important?
Rachael: I gave a little stuffed animal puppy to Maddie one time at Christmas.
Mom: Did you?
Rachael: Yes. Why wouldn’t I? She’s my best friend!
Mom: What’s the best present you ever remember giving anyone at Christmas time?
Rachael: That little puppy to my best friend!
Mom: So . . . Santa gives us lots of good gifts. Does Jesus give us any good gifts?
Rachael: Yes. Talents.
Mom: What else does he give us?
Rachael: I don’t know.
Mom: What’s the most important thing he ever did for us?
Rachael: I don’t know.
Mom: What about dying on the cross and being resurrected?
Rachael: Oh, yeah. That’s the thing he did for us.
Mom: Was that a gift for us? Or do you think gifts can only be wrapped in boxes with pretty paper?
Rachael: I don’t know.
Mom: Did you know that’s why we give good gifts to each other at Christmas time? Because the first gift of Christmas came from Heavenly Father when he gave us Jesus, and then Jesus gave us the gift of eternal life. That’s why we give gifts to each other. It’s our way of being like Jesus.
Rachael: Yeah, I know that.
Mom: So what gift do you think you can give Jesus this year since gifts aren’t just wrapped in boxes with pretty paper? You know, you can give a gift of your heart.
Rachael: I don’t know that stuff.
Mom: Maybe you could give Jesus a gift of the heart by not arguing with your brother and sisters. Or maybe by being extra nice to kids at school who don’t have any friends.
Rachael: There’s no kids at school that don’t have friends.
Mom: They all have friends?
Mom: And nobody makes fun of anybody or anything?
Rachael: That’s right.
Mom: That’s good.
Rachael: But the teacher said there’s going to be a new kid at school.
Mom: Well, maybe when he comes he’ll be scared and nervous and he won’t have any friends. If you were going to give a gift to Jesus, what would you do?
Rachael: I would make friends with him.
Rachael: The teacher said it was going to be a him.
Mom: Well, good. Then you can make friends with him. Because isn’t that what Jesus would do?
Rachael: Yes! And I’m paralyzed, but I can talk. And move my eyeballs.
Mom: Okay. And did you know that’s the most important thing about Christmas?
Rachael: So could you help me?
Mom: Giving good gifts like Jesus gave?
Rachael: Tickle me. If you tickle me I can move again.
Mom: Did you know that’s the real meaning of Christmas? Giving good gifts like Jesus did?
Rachael: I can move my face now.
Mom: Did you know that?
Rachael: I can move my face.
Mom: Are we done here? (Obviously, a rhetorical question.)
Rachael: You have to touch my finger, my hand, and my arm.
Mom: Alright, anything else you want to say about . . .
Rachael: And my legs.
Mom: Yeah, we’re done here.
QUESTION: Do you know what your children (especially the young ones) are absorbing from the world around them as well as your lessons and teachings?
CHALLENGE: Hold an impromptu interview with one (or all) of them sometime this week and prepare to be surprised and amused when you find out!