On Christmas Eve, I went to mass with my family in the small town where my mom lives. There was only one mass, at 4:00 p.m.—the children’s mass. It was action-packed, and I had a great time! Throughout mass, children were singing at random, laughing, crying, shouting, and springing up and down. Miraculously, the baby in the pew in front of me slept the entire time.

Church SantaAfter church, I visited with cousins, who told stories about children’s masses they attended in other towns. My favorite story was about a children’s mass that included a visit from Santa. The church was in a small city, and the pews were packed. It was uncertain when the mass actually began because the children’s voices drowned out the sound system. Suddenly a hush fell over the crowd. There, walking up the main aisle, was Santa Claus.

I can imagine the shock. I’ve never seen Santa at mass. Santa is a kind and generous soul, but the church-going type? Not so much.

Anyway, Santa strolled up to the nativity scene at the front of the church. Then Santa knelt down before the Baby Jesus and new parents. In the twinkle of an eye, Santa rose and headed out the side door. For about two seconds, said my cousin, “you coulda heard a pin drop in there. After that, the place went wild.”

I love that story because it addresses one of the great childhood mysteries –the relationship between Jesus and Santa Claus. To me, the relationship is about the spirit of generosity and being present to one another.