Once upon a time there was a little girl names Sarah. She was a cherubic, cheerful little girl who was much loved and spoiled by her parents. Christmas time was coming and sounds of carols filled the air and decorations filled the house.
Three year old Sarah
Sarah's mommy and daddy were looking forward to Christmas with their little daughter. She was three and beginning to understand the true meaning of Christmas--the story of Jesus birth. The family had a very enjoyable time arranging nativity sets. Sarah always put the baby Jesus figure at the center with all the other figures crowded closely in a circle around Him. It wasn't the most artistic arrangement, but since Jesus was the whole reason the family celebrated the season, it was the most logical.
Mommy and Daddy were also anticipating Christmas morning and stockings and presents with their little girl.
They remembered the year before when they had woken Sarah with the news that Santa had come and brought her some presents. Daddy said, "Wake up, Sarah. Let's go see what Santa Claus got you!"
She had gazed up at them with her sleepy little eyes and said "Santa get you? Santa get you?" Daddy and Mommy laughed fondly at the memory of her slowly opening her presents and looking in her stocking. She was just a little girl then and didn't really understand the fun of presents. Why, they had to tear off the paper and dump out the stocking to show Sarah what Santa had brought!
But this year they just knew that she would be thrilled to open gifts and dig into a stocking! She had plenty of practice opening presents on her third birthday in November and she surely would be eager to discover what surprises waited just one month later on Christmas morning!
Mommy built up the excitement by singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Daddy held Sarah in his lap while they watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" along with a host of other favorite holiday shows on television.
But everytime Good Old St. Nick was mentioned, Sarah became very quiet. Mommy thought that perhaps they shouldn't sing "You better watch out, you better not cry," to Sarah anymore. She wondered if Sarah was afraid she wouldn't get presents because sometimes she did cry--after all, she was only three.
Two year old Sarah
On Christmas Eve, Daddy put Sarah to bed and Mommy came in to read a story and tuck her in. They both talked about going to sleep because "Santa will come tonight while you're sleeping and leave you presents." (Sarah was not a good sleeper!)
Sarah said, "I don't want Santa to come. I don't want him to come to my house."
WHAT? Sarah didn't want Santa to come and bring her presents? What kind of child had these parents raised?
After a bit, Mommy and Daddy realized the Sarah was afraid! Sarah was a timid little thing and there was no need to teach her about stranger danger! She didn't want a strange man coming in their house at night while they were asleep. She didn't want Santa Claus to get her. A light bulb popped on in Mommy and Daddy's heads as they recalled the curious phrasing about Santa from the year before.
"No, no, Santa won't get you. He will get you presents! He will leave treats in your stocking." But all the reassurance in the world could not convince Sarah that Santa was kind and generous. She would not go to sleep and she would not be convinced that she would be safe and there were many tears and much sadness as the evening progressed.
Finally Mommy and Daddy gave up.
They lied to their little girl.
They told her that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, that he was only pretend and mommies and daddies put the presents in the stockings and under the trees.
They felt terrible misleading their little daughter this way, but it was the only way they could calm her fears.
At last, Sarah went to sleep and woke eagerly the next morning to see what the pretend Santa had left for her. It was a lovely Christmas after all, but Sarah was cautioned to never talk about Santa to other little children, because it would make them sad to discover that Santa wasn't real.
A few months later, Santa was a distant memory and the new had worn off the Christmas presents. Sarah had a new baby sister, and daffodils and tulips began to show their pretty little heads above the winter-bare earth.
And people began talking about the Easter Bunny.......
"Here we go again," thought Mommy and Daddy.