Does Santa Believe in Jesus?

December 23, 2011 | 12 comments

We don’t have billboards in our town. But we do have a barrel in the middle of Main Street, in which people attach signs to announce things like potlucks and soup suppers.

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

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

“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 was only six.

I know I was older than most when I found out, 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 catch 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 town.”

Come to think of it, he did look kind of like a man I’d seen at the hardware store.

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.


A repost from the archives.

by | December 23, 2011 | 12 comments


  1. Joan

    What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing — I for one am thrilled that Santa believes in Jesus! =)

  2. Megan Willome

    So precious! You are amazing, Jennifer, that you can allow your children to embrace both Santa and Jesus, and when they’re ready, to let one of them go.

  3. Linda

    As one who believed in the dear old man for a very long time, this touched my heart in a very special way Jennifer. Thank you for letting me “borrow” little girl thoughts this Christmas. She is darling.
    Merry Christmas to all of you. I am sure that Santa is a believer!

  4. Janet

    I love that story. You’re daughter was so thoughtful.

    I bought a statue of Santa this year. He was holding the baby Jesus and his facial expression was one of awe. I thought my 1 y/o grandson needed it.

    Have a blessed Christmas

  5. patricia spreng

    If that Santa had a blog, I wonder what he would be writing right now? I know he was touched by Jesus through the little hands of your girl. Isn’t that a Christmas miracle too? Love your precious ones. He will never forget that gift.

  6. S. Etole

    Your little girls are so cool … think I know where they get it! Christmas blessings to all of you.

  7. Danelle

    “They just want to sit on someone’s lap and let their desires be known.”. . .
    I know that I still haven’t grown up from that truth.
    May we crawl up into the lap of Our Heavenly Father this Christmas with Thanksgiving.
    Love this and wish you all a blessed Christmas!

  8. nmdr

    Saint Nicholas was a real gift giver i hear, and a believer as well.

    I like your story. I don’t often think of a believer being behind the white beard. very refreshing.

  9. Diana Trautwein

    Such a lovely small story, such a lovely small girl. Thanks for this one, Jennifer. Perfect reading before I head off to sleep tonight after a full day of CHRISTMAS – 20 family here for a dessert buffet after a soup supper at our son’s first. Fun, low key progressive dinner. No Santa here, but I kinda think Jesus showed up, especially in the littlest kids.

  10. wolfsrosebud

    what a sweet girl and story… my fav pic is Santa kneeling at the manger bed… glad ur santa knows…

  11. Amy sullivan

    Oh, this post speaks to me exactly where we are at our house too. I love hfow you share all of life’s moments here.

    On of my favorite posts by you is from a long time ago…you spoke of packing p baby clothes and the thought process that goes along with it. I still think about your words as my youngest grows.

  12. Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    What a sweet story ~ and even at 6 yrs. old, Jesus was already shining brightly through Anna! <3


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