The Christmas “Santa” put us on probation. That’s right Santa put us on probation. It began like every other Christmas in the Mann household. We did Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s, we came home and anxiously went to bed fighting sleep but knowing it wasn’t until sleep won that Santa would make his yearly visit. I don’t recall what I asked Santa for that year or much else about this Christmas, but I do remember waking that morning, waiting on the stairs until my mother had enough pictures so that we could go down and see what joys there were to see. We walked into the living room all decked out in Christmas glory, and ran to the mantle to see what Santa left for us. We could see our gifts but there was a note that had to be read first. I was old enough to read, and read it out loud for my little brother. We were in utter disbelief to find that we hadn’t behaved badly enough for coal but not quite good enough for our gifts. So there we were on Christmas probation, our gifts would be given to us when our parent’s felt we had been good enough. We were able to open our gifts from our parents but our stockings and gifts from Santa just sat there haunting us throughout the morning. We went throughout the rest of Christmas, visiting grandparents and enjoying the rest of our Christmas festivities all the while knowing that we were still on probation. It was embarrassing each time one of our cousins asked us what we got for Christmas because we had to tell them we were on probation and couldn’t have our presents yet. I remember by the time we made it home that evening I had been good enough to open one part of my gift, and I remember getting a Barbie, which had to be from Santa because my parents wouldn’t buy Barbie’s. My brother had to wait a little longer to get any of his gifts, and I don’t remember how long this probation lasted because eventually we got the rest of our presents, which neither of us remembers much about but we will never forget being put on probation by Santa.
Looking back on this lesson that “Santa” chose to teach us that year, it always makes me laugh. But it actually was an incredible lesson of Grace. We weren’t good enough that year for our gifts, and even though we had to wait for them we ended up receiving them in full. None of us are good enough for gift that Jesus offers, and many of us wait a long time before we are willing to let ourselves partake in this glorious present but when we do, we get all of it, in full. We don’t have to be good enough for God; Jesus gave Himself because He knew we never would be. We are offered the most beautiful gift possible, don’t put yourself on probation, but humbly accept this gift and let it change your life.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23