Does Santa Believe in Jesus? I Called To Find Out.

December 17, 2010 | 22 comments

We don’t have billboards here in Inwood.

But we do have a barrel in the middle of Main Street that announces potlucks, soup suppers, the bank’s open-house celebrations.

Yesterday, the biggest news of the day was written in three-inch-tall Sharpie letters: “Santa Claus — 6 p.m. @ Community Center.”

I steered around the barrel, looked in the rear-view mirror and asked Anna: “Should we go see Santa tonight?”

“Yea, sure,” she said. Her voice lacked its usual holiday sparkle. “I guess so.”

“You GUESS so,” I responded, turning toward the country road that led home.


I didn’t say anything else, but figured this was it. This was the year she’d tell me she didn’t believe in Santa anymore.

She’s only six. I think I was 17 or something. I know I was older than most, because I distinctly remember being offended for years at the song, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” The nerve of that mother, hanging out under the mistletoe with another man while the father snoozed upstairs.

These days, kids are onto things way earlier.

I parked the car and hauled groceries inside.

She followed me and dropped two grocery sacks on the floor with a thud. She put her hands on her hips.

Yep, this was it.

“Mommy? I know all about that Santa in town.”

“You do?” I asked, lining soup cans on shelves, letting the question linger.

“Yes,” she said, lowering her voice to a whisper. “The man in town isn’t really Santa. He’s … an ELF, dressed like Santa.”

“Is that so?”

She rolled her eyes, in a way that meant: “Well, duh … Mom.”

The way she reasoned, Santa’s too busy this time of year coordinating a worldwide toy-delivery enterprise. So he dispatches elves to take requests.

“And I’m going to give that elf a present,” she said, marching off in search of something to give.

On our way back into town, she spoke again: “Santa and his elves believe in Jesus, don’t you think Mommy?”

“I do, Anna. I do think they believe.”

We lined up along the wall at the Community Center. Anna fished something out of her purse.

I got to thinking, maybe Anna was on to something. His ho-ho-ho did sound a little more like an elf than the real Santa’s.

It was her turn.

She sat on his lap, answered his questions, then pressed a palm-sized gift into his hand. He looked at it, thanked her, and gave her a paper sack full of peanuts, chocolate and a candy cane.

And we left.

On the way home, our little detective offered more details: “That’s not an elf either, Mommy. It’s a real person. I think he might even live in Inwood.”

Come to think of it, he did look kind of like a man I’d seen around town.

Her older sister, who long ago gave up believing in Santa, offered sound effects: “Ding! Ding! Ding! Right answer, Anna!”

I opened my eyes wide and gritted my teeth — a wordless warning to the wiser, older sister.

Anna didn’t seem too troubled. In fact, she seemed thrilled.

This morning, she said the red-suited man at the Community Center would definitely send word to the real Santa, who she is pretty sure is spending a lot of time at Macy’s in New York.

After the girls got on the school bus this morning, I decided to do a little detective work of my own. I opened the phone book, looking for the name of the man who looked like that guy in the red suit.

His wife answered.

“Is Santa, er I mean, Serbutus there?” I asked. (I’m thinking that his name sounds suspiciously elf-ish.)

Serbutus picked up the phone, and I stammered over words, telling him I was the mom of the little girl who handed him a gift.

“Oh yes,” he said, then told me he’d left the gift on a table in the room, and was headed back this morning to pick it up.

Anna’s gift to Santa was this: a little cross with words engraved on the front.

Often, he says, he asks the children if they know the real meaning of Christmas.

“Most of them do,” he told me this morning. “Santa is visible to them. Jesus is a spirit. But they just want to sit on someone’s lap and let their desires be known.”

Before we hung up, I told him that my daughter had asked last night if Santa believed in Jesus.

And I got the official word, right here, straight from Serbutus the Elf: Santa most certainly does believe.

I can’t wait to tell Anna.

by | December 17, 2010 | 22 comments


  1. Deb

    Very good story! My Anna who is 10 still has questions about Santa and really still wants to believe. Good to hear he believes in Jesus, too.

  2. DenaDyer

    I love this, Jennifer. My six year-old is so excited about Christmas. He keeps asking, "How will Santa get down the tiny chimneys?" (in our apartment complex) 🙂 We answer, "Magic!" and wish for a few more Christmases sprinkled with fairy dust. I'm afraid there won't be too many more.

  3. kris Tee

    That elf santa in Inwood sure does believe in JESUS and he shares it with everyone a beautiful man with a beautiful Mrs. santa claus

  4. Angie Vik

    That's a sweet picture of your little girl. Of course any story with a girl named Anna has got to be good.

  5. Peggy Arteberry

    BEAUUUTIFUL! I absolutely LOVE this. It makes me smile brightly. Now, I can say that I know Santa knows Jesus too! Heehee… Thanks for sharing your warm-hearted story! Hugs

  6. Shaunie Friday--Up the Sunbeam

    You and your daughters and your story are precious! And God bless Serbutus the Elf!!

  7. Julia

    Oh…I love this. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!

  8. Candy

    Oh so adorable! As she teeters on the brink of whether or not Santa is real, the important thing is that she knows Who is. Bless her little heart! Your daughter stories always send me back down Memory Lane.

  9. Dawn

    Bigger grin than this 🙂

    (once a journalist, always a journalist…)

  10. Sandra Heska King

    This is so wonderful. So, so wonderful.

  11. Linda

    I am so delighted with this post Jennifer. I've been trying to write out what has been rattling around in my head about Santa. I believed for a long time too, and I know there are some families that don't make Santa a part of their Christmas traditions. I respect that, but I somehow think that we can incorporate Santa in without crowding Jesus out. I am trying to write it out, but I think this says it perfectly well. Thank Anna for asking for me.

  12. Charity Singleton

    Your sweet, sensitive daughter. All the children want to tell Santa what he can bring them, and your daughter went to Santa, even though she knew he wasn't the REAL Santa, and gave him a gift. Just precious.

  13. Jennifer @ Studio JRU

    Oh how sweet! I love this post Jennifer. Your daughter has such a precious heart. I hope you and your family have a wonderful merry Christmas! ♥

  14. Lyla Lindquist

    I'm still chuckling. I loved this post.

    Picturing Anna's wheels turning, Lydia's eyes glinting, and you . . . at 17 finding out the truth.

  15. cvoorhees4

    Jennifer, Anna is a beautiful little girl with such a sweet spirit! I love that she is Christ centered this Christmas season and still full of the real spirit of the season.
    Love, Celia

  16. Megan Willome

    We didn't do Santa with our kids, and although I still agree with that decision, we denied them the opportunity to do such things as give a gift of a cross to Santa, like your daughter did.

  17. Graceful

    What an incredibly sweet story. Your daughter has a heart of gold…and I know just where she gets it from, friend!

  18. Melissa Campbell

    I love innocence of your daughter and the boldness of you for investigating and finding out the truth about Santa. Smiles.

  19. Duane Scott

    This post had me smiling from ear to ear. 🙂 That's all.

  20. The Soap Sister

    What a great post, and what a sweet daughter! I'm so glad that you can tell her with certainty that Santa is a believer! 😀

  21. S. Etole

    Your daughter has a true Christmas heart.

  22. Jennifer

    Thank you for this post, Jennifer. In the midst of a Santa-less church community, I've allowed the magic of Santa in my life, too. The thing is, I tried this year to show Wyatt the story of the REAL St. Nicholas a-la-Veggie-tale. He loved it. And then I told him that Rudolph wasn't in St. Nicholas' story because he wasn't real. And the child argued with me–I lost. Flying reindeer? Why not. He believes in Strawberry Shortcake, too, so I shouldn't be surprised.

    My mom has a piece with Santa kneeling at the manger before baby Jesus. All three of mine adore that piece and cart it around the house.


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