Christmas, Trains & BelievingTuesday, December 15, 2015
Christmas, Trains & Believing
The Polar Express as an Example of a Real Experience
The magic of Christmas is powerful, especially for kids. There is a change in the atmosphere that every child picks up on. Either mom and dad are trying to hide special gifts, or there are more activities to take part it or even the stress of trying to make the most of a small budget - all of these adult behaviors make the atmosphere of the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas different.
That wide eyed look of children during the build up to Christmas has only been mirrored one other time in my kids' eyes: The first time they saw a full size passenger train up close. The ground rumbled before the train ever appeared, allowing a build up of magic that was not dashed once that large engine pulled up. It was a look of awe. My children made that train magical, even for the adults who no longer saw it as magical - fun maybe, but not magical...
It is no surprise to me that The Polar Express has captivated children's imaginations for decades, The blending of a powerful locomotive and mysteries of Christmas can grab a hold of all kids.
The biggest bonus of this story as a mom, why I continue to read it year after year, sometimes day after day, to my kids, is the idea that this little boy who doubts, ends up with the strongest belief of all because he had a real experience.
You see, the narrator is a little boy who is on the verge of no longer believing in Santa. He has done his research, and come to the conclusion that Santa cannot be real. Then, in the middle of the night the Polar Express comes to pick him; he has a golden ticket to see Santa give out the first gift of Christmas.
Even while he is on the train to the North Pole, while others firmly believe, he doubts. He has not had any proof to believe.
When Santa makes his grand appearance, he finally experiences, and believes - he can hear the magical bells of the reindeer. The magic continues because he is given the first gift of Christmas, a bell from the harness. But he loses it on the way back. So of course he convinces himself it is only a dream.
Until, on Christmas morning, after all the gifts have been opened, one more small gift is left under the tree - a special gift to him from Santa - his bell. He can hear the bell, His sister can hear the bell. His parents cannot hear it. They no longer believe. They have been jaded by a world and a society that tells them not to hold on to the magic, the awe, the beauty that all kids have for Christmas.
While many families do not follow the Santa tradition, this book is so much more than just a story of believing in Santa. It shows the importance of going through doubts, in order to truly experience the real wonder of a relationship with a Person who is able to give out the First Gift of Christmas to each of us and continue to give us the bits of evidence we each need to continue to believe even while the world tells us to grow up.
Have you read The Polar Express to you kids? Have you seen the movie? Have you had the privilege of getting on an actual train to experience The Polar Express?
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