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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas in Heaven

(c) By Doug Stone

Note: This story is based on an actual e-mail question sent to "Ask Santa" on WLJY-FM radio in Stevens Point. Every morning during December, Santa is asked one question from the listening audience. The answer has been expanded here to explain the celebration of Christmas in heaven as well.

Santa Claus receives many letters at the North Pole. He receives mail throughout the year, but during the Christmas season his mail is unbelievable. Why, it takes 300 delivery people from post offices around the world, working night and day during December, to deliver Santa's mail.

He also receives many phone calls from parents, especially as the calendar gets closer and closer to Christmas Eve. Everyone knows that when children grow up and become moms and dads, Santa sends them his direct phone number, to be used in times of emergency, when there is not enough time for a letter to reach the North Pole.

The calls from parents usually let Santa know of extra special children who have done something really nice for someone else.

Sometimes, on extraordinary occasions, or when a child needs to reconnect with the true spirit of Christmas, parents call Santa so their troubled child can speak directly to the world's greatest elf. These telephone calls to Santa's secret phone number have nothing to do with Christmas wish lists. These calls are filled with questions about Santa, or the elves, or Mrs. Claus, or maybe about the reindeer, or any other matter regarding Christmas.

And so it was that 8- year-old Lyle had his chance to talk to Santa not too terribly long ago.

With only two days before he was to make his round the world journey to deliver presents to girls and boys, Santa received an emergency call from Lyle's mother. "Lyle," she said, "is very upset. He cries himself to sleep each night as Christmas Eve approaches.

You see," said Lyle's mother, "Lyle and his brother Matt have always loved Christmas. It has always been their favorite time of the year; with the big green tree covered with ornaments of all kinds and bright twinkling lights. Every year," she continued to explain to Santa. "The boys have raced to the tree on Christmas morning, each wanting to be first to open a present from Santa. But this year Matt was gone. He had died, and gone to heaven earlier in the year, and Lyle missed him terribly. So, " Lyle's mother asked, "Santa, would you please take time to talk to my son Lyle?"

"Ho, Ho, Ho," laughed Santa, his round belly shaking. "You have Lyle scoot up close to the phone and I'll be happy to share with him some of the magic of Christmas."

Lyle's mother snuggled close to her son as Lyle said hello to Santa and asked him, his voice quiet and trembling,

"Santa, is there a Christmas in heaven?"

"Is there a Christmas in Heaven?" Santa, asked in amazement.

"Where do you think Christmas got started? Christmas started in heaven. It started with the birth of the baby Jesus, as a celebration of his birth. Down here, the decorations, the lights, the presents, even me, Santa Claus, are all just reminders of the great joy people should feel at this time of the year.

But let me tell you about Christmas in heaven, Lyle. Let's start with the tree." said Santa.

"Think of the biggest, tallest, roundest, fullest Christmas tree you've ever seen. Because the Christmas tree in heaven is ten times bigger, ten times rounder, and a hundred times more perfect than any tree you will ever see on earth.

"Santa," asked Lyle, "are there decorations on the tree?"

"Decorations?" said Santa with great excitement;

"Lyle, let me tell you about the decorations on the Christmas tree in heaven. Every angel, every soul, young and old alike, that resides in heaven places their very own hand picked, personally created ornament on that magnificent tree.

When you consider that there have been a great many angels who entered heaven since the birth of Jesus you can get a pretty good idea of how full the tree is with decorations.

"Does the tree have lights, too?" Lyle asked, his eyes wide with excitement.

"Lights?" laughed Santa, "Let me tell you about the lights on the Christmas tree in heaven". Tonight, Lyle, wherever you are, go outside well after dark, and if it's a clear night, look up to the sky and marvel at all the stars you see, for those are the lights on the Christmas tree in heaven."

"What else happens at Christmas in Heaven, Santa?" asked Lyle, getting more excited with every question.

"Well now", laughed Santa, "I suppose I'd better tell you about the music and the singing that goes along with Christmas in heaven. At two very special times of the year", said Santa, "angels can be heard singing everywhere; Christmas is one of those times.

Lyle, the angels have a million member choir. They start their caroling well before midnight on Christmas Eve, and their music is heard throughout the universe. Not just the songs you might hear in church, but all of your favorites too. For the angels know no boundaries to their singing and their joy.

They laugh and play and dance, and even act silly, just like you and me.Of course, instead of making angels in the snow, they like to make people in the snow." Santa paused and laughed at the very idea.

"Now, about their singing, Lyle." continued Santa. "Angels are always lending their voices to children and church choirs in cities and towns all over the world on Christmas Eve; even right in your very own hometown. You hear their voices in the carolers on street corners, and from people gathered around Christmas fires all over the world.

They Herald the coming and the arrival of the baby Jesus. They sing happy songs and solemn songs alike. They sing popular children's songs as well as songs of praise," explained Santa.

"Santa," said Lyle, "I just have one more question. Do the angels get presents like we do?"

Santa thought deeply for a moment. Then, with a great, broad smile he answered.

"Well, Lyle, let me tell you about Christmas morning in heaven."

It is as special to the angels in heaven as it has been to you and your brother Matt.

On Christmas morning, all the angels act just like you and millions of other children all over the world. Before the sun has shone its morning smile, before the first song of a lark, the angels are up and out of their beds, racing to the Christmas tree in heaven. Each angel wants to be the first to the tree, the first to find something very special, just for them.

And Lyle", said Santa, with a gentle voice, "let me tell you about the presents that the angels receive.

Santa moved closer to the phone, his voice soft and tender.

"Each angel", he continued, "finds presents with their name on them, and they tear those presents open with all the vitality of a five year old child. The Christmas wrappings go flying all over heaven. The angels feel the same excitement you do when you open your own presents. And when the wrapping is off, and the presents are open, heaven fills with a golden light of joy and happiness. For in each box and package around the Christmas tree the angels find messages of love from the people who miss them and remember them here on earth.

And you know what Lyle," said Santa lovingly, " maybe that's the best Christmas present of all, whether in heaven or on earth; to know that you are loved and not forgotten.

And THAT, my boy, is Christmas in Heaven."

"Oh, thank you Santa," said Lyle with a broad, happy smile, " Now I know Matt is happy. Merry Christmas, Santa."

"And a very Merry Christmas to you Lyle, and to all who are young in heart." Said Santa. "Merry Christmas."

The author lives in Delavan, Wis.

-end-

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