Dec 20, 2012

The Warmth of a Small Child’s Embrace

Last Friday, I was at home getting my things together for my evening’s activities. A local ice rink hired me to be Santa at a “Skate with Santa” event and this would not only provide some cash, but also give me a chance to be a big kid again.

I was somewhat amused by the idea of playing Santa, because when we raised our children, Santa wasn’t part of the Christmas story that we told. No, I wasn’t a bad dad, I simply wanted my children to know that Christmas was a celebration of God’s love when He sent His only begotten Son to become “one of us”; Immanuel; who would die on a cross and then resurrected so that "whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)

Everything I needed for the event was packed into a duffle bag along with my sharpened skates and the Santa suit the organization gave to me to wear for the event.  I had some time before I had to leave my house so I decided to turn on the television to see what was on.

My attention was quickly captivated by the news that had interrupted most of the major networks. The stations were reporting the tragic news that a lone gunman had gone into a school in Newtown, Connecticut and shot to death several adults and children.

During the next few minutes, my attention was absorbed by the television reporters as they attempted to provide specific details about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and its aftermath. They broadcasted that twenty-six people were killed; reporting that twenty of them children around six and seven years old. The gunman then shot and killed himself.

I, like so many of us on that day, began to pray and cry out on behalf of the families and administrators and rescue people who had to sort through this tragedy. My mind tried to make sense of it all as my emotions as a father and grandfather began to overwhelm me. My heart began to ache as I tried to imagine what those parents in Connecticut must be going through.

I called my wife Cathy at the school where she works; simply because I wanted to connect with another person before I headed out to be with the children and their families at the ice rink. I also wondered about how many of the children I would soon be with knew about the tragedy that had taken place twelve hundred miles away.

I loaded my gear into my truck and drove to the ice rink as I tried to focus on loving those whom I was hired to play Santa for. I arrived ten minutes later and went into one of the locker rooms to begin my transformation. I laced my skates, put on the Santa suit, and secured the beard with adhesive so that it couldn’t be pulled off.

I stepped on the ice and was greeted by jubilant shouts of joy as the awaiting children saw Santa arrive. My heart quickly was totally aligned with my assignment for the evening; be the best Santa I knew how and love on these children and their families as a form of distraction from the realities of our broken world.

I spent the next hour and a half playing tag, posing for pictures, and skating around bringing joy to the one hundred and fifty or so people who had come down for the event.

One of the absolute joys was being able to use my grandpa superpowers and stop several crying children by picking them up in my arms and giving them a ride around the rink, much to the delight of their parents.

My heart was filled up as grateful parents and children thanked me as they left the ice for spending time with them by posing for pictures and skating with them.

I stepped off the ice and made my way back into the locker rooms to begin my transformation from Santa back to Tommy O. I wiped off my skates, packed up my equipment, loaded my gear into my truck, and drove home.

As I drove home, praise rose from my heart; I was so very grateful to God for the gift of the evening! I was so very grateful at this precious gift of being able to have spent the time bringing joy and laughter to so many.

I was especially grateful for all of the hugs that I received from the children that helped to fill my heart that had been broken from the tragedy that had taken place earlier in the day.

I was so very grateful to my Heavenly Father for the warmth of a small child’s embrace.

“Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:14-17 NKJV)

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Tom, for sharing this very touching article. I always enjoy getting hugs from children every day in my work. This tragedy really brought it home to me as well as I imagined it happening at our school. Someone had broken into our school and stole three laptops two days before this happened. God is very gracious to us and He gives us the opportunity to be gracious to others.

    Blessings always,
    Ken and Sharon