It was a warm, sunny day and all was right in my little world. I was five years-old and riding in the car with my Papaw, going where I don’t remember; I was with someone I loved and enjoyed more than almost anything else in the world, what more could I want? Though I don’t remember where we going, I vividly recall where we were when it happened: we were driving down 5th St Hill, about halfway to the bottom (not that many/any of you will know where that is but I include it only to illustrate how well I remember the event).
“There’s no Santa Clause”, he said in the course of whatever we were talking about.
Then a wide-eyed, astonished look overtook his face as he realized what he’d just said – to a five year-old boy!
“You knew that, didn’t you son?”
“Yes, Papaw, I did. If it took Aunt Priss and Uncle James nine hours to fly on a jet from Germany home there’s no way a man in a sleigh can fly all around the world and stop at every house in one night”, I answered.
My uncle had been stationed in Germany for two years but had just been transferred to Fort Knox, KY, so they had flown home for a couple days visit before going on to his new duty station just a few weeks prior to this. I had been pondering this conundrum of how Santa could do what he does so fast when a jet took so long since their flight home. But I didn’t know who to ask about it that I was sure would tell me the truth. My answer had just landed, pun intended, in my lap!
The relief that washed over his face, and entire body, was as evident as the angst that had preceded it, even to me at that age.
“Well, that’s good”, he almost sighed.
“Can I ask you something else? You always tell me the truth, don’t you Pop?”
“Yes, son, I do. And I always will; I’ll never lie to you and you never lie to me, okay?”
“Okay!”, I answered, “Santa isn’t magic and there’s not any real magic like they say, is there?
“No, son, he’s not and there isn’t any real magic” he said.
From that moment on I knew without a doubt I would always have someone I could go to and get honestly from. I learned later on in life that honestly wouldn’t always be what I wanted to hear either – and to this day I respect that more than I can put into words. Anytime I had a tough question or major life decision to make I ran it by Papaw if I wasn’t sure what to do before I did anything. I miss being able to do that more than words can describe, too.
The Bible teaches us that the things we do and say, as well as those we don’t, are the legacy we leave behind.
Numbers 14:18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’
Many people misunderstand that verse; God isn’t promising to do bad things to our children and generations to come. He’s telling us our actions have consequences and those can have an effect on the people we leave behind for years; think of the families and relatives of notorious killers, thieves and other bad people and how they were effected by the actions of their ancestors. Those things are their legacy which carried over to their children and beyond. It’s the same way with each of us; what we do, how we act and react, what we say and how we say it, are all things that leave a lasting impression on those we love and are learning, oftentimes unaware, from us, both the bad and the good.
What kind of legacy are you leaving for your kids, grandkids and beyond? Have you thought about it yet? Start today. Whether it’s for the first time you’ve considered it or if you just want to improve on the foundation you’ve laid. It’s hard, daunting work; I know from my own experience. But anything of value will be.