Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Wishes (by Billy Coffey)

A few days ago, the local newspaper dedicated a few of their pages to children's letters to Santa. It's been a tradition with the News-Leader ever since I can remember, and I applaud them for it. Not only are the letters informative and at times very touching, they also bring back a little nostalgia. I was six when my letter to Santa appeared in the newspaper. I knew then I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

If you look at these letters every year, and I do, you realize some things. First, toys have changed over the years. Footballs and baseball gloves have been replaced by i-Pods and Playstations. Things are a lot more electronic now. Still, there are presents that defy time and reach across generations. I was happy to see that both doll babies and Legos were still in high demand.

But though the toys have changed, the children haven't. Say what you want about test scores being lower than they were twenty years ago or kids being more lethargic than they once were. Kids are still kids, and always will be. This is a good thing.

And you realize this, too: these letters to Santa could well be prayers to God. They are full of longings and wishes, pleas and hope, all directed to someone they know can help them. And the sorts of things these kids ask for aren't really all that different than mine.

Things like faith in the midst of doubt. Take Jackson, for instance:

"Are you real, Santa? Or are you a phony? People say you are, some say not. I don't know if you are, but when I'm older I'm going to find out...I hope your real that's my belief...But one thing I want to do, to make proof that Santa's real. So I can keep my belief."

I'm right there with you, Jackson. "I believe, help my unbelief," said the man to Jesus. And so say we all.

There is also the nagging sense that I'm not measuring up. "I hope you think I have been good this year," says Sarah. A sentiment echoed by a lot of other kids in a lot of other letters. Some are more honest: "Sometimes I'm good, but sometimes I'm bad," wrote Kevin. Aren't we all? Which is the point, I think. We're not good enough to deserve all the things we ask, and yet there they are, under the tree every year. Why? Because Santa knows even though we're not so good sometimes, we're still worth much. To kids, this sort of thing is called love. To adults, it's called grace.

Of course, prayers are not all about me. There are plenty of other people who need help, too. They range from the small ("I wish you can help my mom get the tree out of the attic," writes Megan) to the big ("All I want is my six teeth and my papa to feel better. I want my Meme to get to Maryland fine, and my family together for the holidays"--Jasmine).

And then there are the prayers that are said out of pain ("My daddy back. My daddy leave and we lonely have mommy, me and my dog"--Brittney).

There are also the ones said out of pure love ("I know this is going to be a bad Christmas for some kids. so I want you to give my presents to the kids who won't be getting anything this year. God bless everyone!"--ZayVon).

I'm not sure if all those letters were answered the way the kids wanted them. That's okay. Not all of our prayers get answered that way, either. But even if they weren't, I feel pretty confident that all those kids will be writing letters again next year. Santa always come through in the end.

God, too.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.


Denise said...

Amen, be blessed as you bless me.

Maureen said...

Touching. . . the children's letters and your words.

Liz said...

What wonderful letters, wonderful thoughts and wonderful kids. Prayers for some of their requests!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful thoughts from the children... and from you, Billy!

jasonS said...

I realize this wasn't the point of your post, but I love how your letter being published as a child confirmed you wanted to be a writer. It can't be emphasized enough that the smallest seeds can produce the greatest fruit.

Look at how many lives you're touching now in your encouraging, inspiring, and challenging way. God is so good!

L.T. Elliot said...

Kids truly are the greatest. Thank you again, Billy. You're amazing.

Anonymous said...

letters and words and prayers...
i love it.

Annie K said...

I'm glad God never changes.

And Santa too.

Corinne said...

Thank you for sharing those letters, they've got near tears. As a child sometimes it's hard to know God, but Santa is a little more concrete (as funny as that may sound!).

Heart2Heart said...

What a blessing and insight these letters are from the beautiful and thoughtful kids who write them. May God answer each and every one of them.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

Oh Billy, the pain in Brittney's letter .... it cuts deep. I'm thinking that one's going to stick for a while. And it should.

Helen said...

Those letters are very touching. Thank you for sharing them.