I’ve been thinking about Father Christmas and how, as a child with skewed theology, I would often confuse him with God; they are both everywhere, they both know whether you’ve been naughty or nice, and one of them gives you presents. We owned this rather garish door decoration which spent most of the year on top of my wardrobe in a bin liner:
I was convinced that Father Christmas was using it as eyes to spy on me, so I endeavoured to be as good as possible.
One winter, Father Christmas accidentally left his hat under our tree and I took great care of it for a whole year, not letting my brother too near it (“Karen, can’t we just keep it? He’ll never know!” “Of course he’ll know! He knows everything and you won’t get presents if you’re bad!”), and only trying it on at rare occasions. I left Father Christmas a note the following Christmas, explaining how well I had looked after his hat and hoping he hadn’t been too cold without it. I wanted to add that my brother had tried to steal it, but I figured Father Christmas knew this already and would punish my brother accordingly. The next day it was still there, this time with a bag of sweets and a letter; ‘Dear Karen, Thank you for looking after my hat. You can keep it because I have a new one. P.S. Share the sweets with your brother.’
An early lesson in grace I suppose.