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December 19, 2016 / Kerry Alys Robinson

Wonder

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Our family was enjoying dinner on Christmas Eve before bundling up for midnight Mass at Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel at Yale University. Christopher and Sophie were tiny but precocious. Advent had been full of lengthy discussions during which their innately inquisitive small selves delved ever more deeply into the practicalities of Santa Claus and his primary, global responsibility. On this night in particular, our tenacious children wanted to know how, exactly, Santa would manage to visit the homes of all of the world’s children before dawn.

I give my husband a lot of credit. He is a scientist by profession and has always had trouble suspending disbelief. Skepticism was in the air; Michael held his ground. And then, in the midst of mounting doubt, a miracle happened. Christopher bit into a homemade gingerbread Christmas cookie and lost his tooth.

Shouts of congratulations ensued! Great care was taken to examine the tooth and the beautiful toothless smile. After asking to be excused from the table, Christopher ran upstairs to place the prized possession under his pillow. All conversations about chimneys, reindeer and time zones were mercifully suspended.

It wasn’t much easier to have conversations that Advent with my closest friend, a Catholic priest. He was fascinated by how parents help their children make the transition to understanding the truth about Santa Claus without risking their disbelief in God. Neither of us had easy answers.

I marveled at the seriousness with which everyone was safeguarding against disillusionment. To be jaded was to side with the Grinch. A premium was placed on wonder and marvel and awe. Trying to explain mystery is taxing and ultimately futile, and yet we can’t help but try, just as a child can’t help but probe the implications of Santa’s monumental task.

At Mass with my family beside me, enveloped in a community of faith, inspired by exquisite music and a homily on the light and truth of hope, I give in to wonder and mystery, grateful beyond measure for all that I know to be true but can not explain. Grace. Being in love. Redemption. Transcendence. Forgiveness. Beauty. A parent’s devotion to her child. God becoming human because of love.

At Yale’s Catholic Chapel, intellectually brilliant students and professors and their families gather to worship God and support each other in faith. It is a wonder to behold.

Our children fall asleep and have to be carried to the car after Mass. In the morning they will rise early, too early, and burst into our room with irrepressible joy and anticipation. They know they cannot see the tree until their sleepy parents are awake.

At dawn, the four of us make our way to the living room and it is clear that Santa has been here. The kids race around the room examining everything with unfettered joy. Santa drank all of the bourbon and ate one macaroon. The stockings are full. Presents are under the tree. But this year there is something different. We stop when we see it, a note for Christopher. It reads,

Christopher,

I have waited my whole life to meet Santa Claus. Thanks to you and your perfectly timed lost tooth, I finally did. Imagine our great surprise when we arrived at your home on the same night at the same moment in order to attend to our respective tasks. We can’t thank you enough, Christopher, for setting the stage for this joyous meeting to occur at long last.

Santa and I want to convey our encouragement to you to continue to be the very best person you are intended to be. The world needs you and needs you to be kind and thoughtful and merciful. Remember what your parents have always told you: You can be anything as long as you contribute to and bless the lives of others. Be good to your mom and dad and sister. And don’t forget to floss!

Merry Christmas. Love, The Tooth Fairy

PS I know your dad thinks this is an exorbitant amount for a tooth, but I couldn’t resist! Don’t spend the whole dollar. Give some to charity. You will be in awe of what generosity can accomplish in the world.

I see it in Christopher’s eyes, a mix of euphoria and incredulity. He thinks the handwriting is familiar, the coincidence equivocal, but is overjoyed at the idea of such a momentous meeting in his home. Skepticism yields to marvel. He is close to figuring it all out, which makes his cooperation with delight and creativity and mystery and love, the attributes of God, all the more wonderful.

2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Fbhajo / Dec 19 2016 10:32 pm

    God has many messengers (Angels) – whether they are for hire, higher or part of the hierarchy. They all have the same job: to seek Faith!

  2. Bert Proscino / Dec 22 2016 1:46 am

    An important story well told! 🎄🎅🎁🎄
    Merry Christmas to the ingenious Tooth Fairy & All! 💟

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