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Crucifying Santa (Or how I found Christmas where there was no Christmas)

Some years ago I read in the New York Times of a strange East-meets-West phenomenon. The Japanese had discovered Christmas and, no doubt aided by enterprising retailers, taken the season to heart. Aware that the holiday has something to do with an overfed man in a red suit and the birth of Jesus Christ, they, not unlike most of us, didn’t quite grasp the connection. It should have come as no surprise then when American tourists were horrified to encounter a Christmas display in a Tokyo department store window with a red-suited Santa Claus nailed to a cross.

I’m afraid that I’ve crucified a few Santas myself. As one who cherishes the season, I reluctantly confess to spending a good deal of my life oblivious to its deeper meaning–guilty of not seeing the forest for the Christmas trees. In defense of my ignorance, it is not difficult to be distracted by Yule tinsel, for Christmas is so often defined by its myriad symbols: stars, bells, wreaths, reindeer, baubles, bows, mistletoe, poinsettias, candles, and candy canes. But if you strip away the façade and symbols of the season, what remains?

It was in just such a circumstance that I truly found Christmas, in a place where there was no Christmas–the country of Taiwan–a world removed from Rudolphs and Grinches, church bells and manger scenes, far from friends and family, far from the street-lamp ornaments and garlands that overhung the snow-packed streets of home. Outwardly, there was no evidence of the season. None.

Yet, among the pagodas and golden temples, water buffaloes and rice paddies, Christmas was still there. It was inside my heart. And even though it made my heart burn with homesickness, my heart did burn. Brightly. And I was filled with love for the season and gratitude for all that I was missing: my family, my friends, my country. I was fortunate to have so much in my life to miss so badly.

In this state of heart, I came to the realization that it is, perhaps, not as much a question of what Christmas is about as it is what we are about. That is, while we are attempting to define the season, the season, in fact, is far more adept at defining us–questioning our hearts whether or not we will hear its call of love and joy and peace on earth, goodwill to men.

I hope that you may find enough Christmas in your heart to last you not just through the season, but through the year to come. God Bless you to that end and, from my family to yours, have a very, Merry Christmas. – Richard and Keri Evans


Christmas Night.

As the evening falls

like the curtain on a

long-awaited show,

I hold my daughter,

just one last time

this season,

In the warm bath of the

Christmas-tree lights.

And I wonder.

Did the Yuletide parties

and gatherings fill her

with a sense of family?

Did the Christmas rituals

unite her in a shared

commonality with

her fellowmen?

Did the music of Christmas

heal her of a cynical world

and inspire her with hopes

of something greater?

Did the gifts she shared

teach her that the greatest gifts

are received in the giving?

Did the once-wrapped

presents of Christmas remind

her of a greater gift given

many Christmases ago?

And I wonder.

Is there enough awe

in my child,

enough magic left,

to save a world?

For within my heart

I lament a great truth—

That the only

promise of childhood

is that it will end.

And I wonder what

I have given her

to take its place.

And is it enough?

©1998 Richard Paul Evans


Feel free to share my Christmas message!

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Dear Richard and Keri,
    Thank you for your Christmas message. You have a deep understanding of what Christmas is really all about. It’s not the tinsel and lights on the tree, songs and gifts, but of the gift of love, the everlasting love of our Creator…the gift of Jesus for us, to be one with us. The lowly, humble babe, the Prince of Peace, He who taught us how to love one another…by His life and example…a gift without measure! He awakens our hearts to the hunger and needs of others…the need to love and be loved that exists in each of us. And, if we’re wise, we strive to follow in His footsteps…for this is the Greatest Gift of all! That is my Christmas wish, Dear Richard and Keri, and to all your loved ones. Gladys Brayer

    1. Dear Richard and Keri,

      I wish you a blessed and very MERRY CHRISTMAS!! We have a huge family and always look forward to the Christmas Mass and the get-together to exchange gifts.

      Thank you and may God bless you and your family.

  2. You and Keri are an inspiration to all of us. Have a wonderful holiday season and take care. From one of your Boise followers!

  3. Merry Christmas to you and your family. I am an avid reader and admirer of all your books including Michael Vey. I look forward each week for your message. I look forward each year for your special Christmas book. May God shower you with His love and blessings each day.

  4. Rick, wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and I too wonder what I have instilled in my children and grandchildren. For me, Christmas is one of the most beautiful time of the year. Some people smile more and spread the joy of Jesus’s birth, while other find the season very depressing and lonely. The later fail to see out the joy and reason for the season; I believe they are the ones who we should seek out to give them a reason to rejoice in the season.
    Your poem touched my heart and brought back happy memories of a time long ago with my children when they oblivious to what their world be like as an adult. Thank you for memories your poem so quickly reminds me.

  5. I pray your family has the Christmas we all look for and the love of Christ the whole year thro. please keep writing the books that inspire esp. people like us.

  6. The Christmas Box Miracle changed my life forever. I am now on the Angel of Hope Board in South Bend, IN where we have a beautiful Angel Statue and good attendance at our Candle Lighting and Spring Remembrance Ceremony. Richard attended our dedication many years ago. I would like to know how I can find out if Richard gives speeches to groups. Our Four Arts Club of Elkhart IN has monthly meetings where we have presenters from the Arts give 50-60 minute talks for our membership. We have a generous budget and I know Richard would be an exceptional speaker. Please tell me how can I contact him or his agent. Thank you!

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