As I glance into the rear view mirror at a Christmas still fresh in my mind, I think back to my childhood, and wonder why Santa ever brought me anything other than a petrified piece of coal. My mother's words still clamor in my ears, her voice full of desperation, as she struggled to mold me into an obedient child. " If you don't behave yourself, Santa won't bring you anything this year." I was always hopeful, of course, that Santa would be merciful. After all, every picture I had ever seen of him showed a happy and jolly fellow, just as the song proclaimed. Yet, my mother told me that he could see everything I did, and if I behaved badly, which was often the case, too bad for me. 

Every year, despite my numerous flaws and imperfections, Santa always made an appearance. And to my great delight and surprise, there was the desired doll under the tree, along with my father's stocking filled with colored, hard candy, an apple or an orange and an assortment of peanuts and nuts.

For years, I viewed God through the same window as the one I saw Santa through. Surely, God would see everything about me. My quick and flashy temper, my short comings, too numerous to count. I was sure that like Santa, God was eagerly awaiting my inevitable list of imperfections. Thankfully, the day came when I found out that we don't have to change to receive the awesome gift of Christmas. A gift it is. Free. God's love without condition. Whew!!! Deep breath. No worries. God has us covered. He loves us just the way we are.. 

--Mary Emerson