I love the bombardment of this season's cheery props—Advent wreaths and Christmas trees and chimney stockings and of course there's that guy about whom, after all this time, kids still wonder, "Is he real?"
You know, Jesus.
I remember, as a child, staring at the Nativity scene. That baby looked so snuggled in, usually on a bed of hay. All I could muster was, "That's gotta itch."
Adults would gush about the little guy, "Isn't he marvelous? Don't we love him?"
I was not a child who adored babies. I remember playing the part of Mary in the Christmas pageant when Brian Strouth was Joseph. I gritted my teeth through the whole narration, thinking, Try to hold my hand, Strouth, and I'll clobber you with this baby doll.
After the school program, we watched an animated video about the 1897 New York Sun editorial, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." I found the letter fascinating. The editorial writer, Francis Pharcellus Church, said that children who didn't believe in Santa had been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.
1897? You ain't seen nothing yet, Francis.
I'd heard all my life about the controversy surrounding Christmas. A contaminated season thanks to too much commercialism! The entire holiday laden with stress and worry!
I could relate. Even as a child, I worried, worried, worried. I was scared a lot of the time. And I doubted that some baby in a manger could help.
I was a little older when I really brought these troubles to the Lord. I started with Luke's Christmas story, then began flipping backwards through the Bible. Back before Jonah, before Moses, before Noah.
I landed on Adam. And Eve. And God scolding them both. And scolding a serpent who relentlessly tempted them.
Relentless. I could relate.
God told the serpent that the woman's offspring would crush the serpent's head.
The woman's offspring? Jesus. Did he mean Jesus?
A defender who would crush on my behalf. Blessed relief. Now! Let's hear those sleigh-bells jingling!
It's a gift that keeps on giving. Every Christmas, I get choked up thinking about how it all began. Peace on Earth. Crushing Defender. Same thing, right?
Perhaps not exactly. But if given the question about Jesus, I'd tell it to the little Virginias of the world using Francis Pharcellus Church's words: "Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever."
Yes, Virginia. He is real after all.
Janelle Alberts is a freelance writer, focused on integrating Bible stories into daily life. She and her loving husband enjoy their two wonderful children most of the time.