Monday, December 21, 2009

The Night I Met Santa

The Night I Met Santa by Lora Johnson is the perfect blend of the two kinds of Christmas.  When I think of Christmas, I think of the "church Christmas" with Baby Jesus and what we call the "true meaning of Christmas".  Then there is also the "Santa Claus Christmas".  Some families are able to blend the two traditions to an extent, but rarely are they truly connected.  This book does it in 32 pages.

It's just before Christmas, and Jeremy has been naughty.  Because Santa Claus only gives presents to those children who are nice, he assumes that he isn't going to get any presents this year.  Also, Mommy has taken down his stocking and told him as much.

But when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he sneaks down to find Santa putting out the presents, and a new stocking where his old one used to be.  Santa is still giving him presents!  Feeling relieved, he turns to go back upstairs, but Santa calls him back.

Santa tells him that Mom was right, and Jeremy really doesn't deserve the presents.  But Jeremy will receive them anyway. When Jeremy asks why, Santa tells him a story of when he was a young man.  He had met the famous man named Jesus, long before he had become Santa Claus.  Santa was feeling particularly burdened, and Jesus asked to take the burdens from him.  He told Jesus everything that he had done wrong and Jesus forgave him.  Soon after, Jesus died on the cross to save everyone's sins, including Jeremy's.

Santa held on to the lessons learned from Jesus, and decided to give children gifts, even when they are naughty, to teach them that they are forgiven.  This also reminds them that Christmas is to celebrate the birth of the man who came to save all of our sins.

Hearing a story like this one makes me feel better about children who receive gifts from Santa, despite having been naughty at this time of year.  Too often I hear parents threaten to have Santa not bring presents, only to give in and get the children everything that they want.  The lack of follow-through doesn't teach children anything, so the whole idea is wasted.  Hearing that receiving the presents is a form of forgiveness may inspire children to behave a little bit more.

In addition to this great story is a poem about Santa praying before going out on his Christmas Eve rounds.  The whole book is filled with gorgeous, vibrant paintings by Christine Ann Edwards.

This is the kind of Christmas book that deserves to become a Christmas classic and be read by all families who celebrate the holiday.  It embraces both kinds of traditions, while simultaneously reminding us the true meaning of the Christmas spirit and the holiday.

I received a review copy of this book from the author.

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