I can’t really tell you why I have had a Christmas movie on my mind lately, since we’re almost on the opposite end of the calendar from the holiday. It must be because this particular movie was more about skepticism and faith than it was about Christmas. All I know is that I have a strong desire to watch it for one scene in particular, and it’s definitely not showing on television right now—nor is it in my four-member DVD collection. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t have cable and therefore would likely also have trouble viewing it on Christmas Eve. Google saves the day—the entire screenplay of Miracle on 34th Street (1994 edition) is online.
I wanted to see this one scene because I have come very close to having a conversation with my husband that resembles the one in the movie between young, thoughtful Susan Walker and her no-nonsense mother, Dorey. If the state of my heart could ever be captured on film, it is in this scene:
Susan: Something’s driving me crazy and I can’t sleep […] You’re positive he’s not the real Santa Claus?
Dorey: I thought that we talked about this. You understand what he is.
Susan: What if we’re wrong? That would be extremely rude.
Dorey: Well, we’re not wrong, sweetheart.
Susan: But all my friends believe in Santa Claus.
Dorey: Well, most children your age do.
Susan: How come I don’t?
Dorey: Because you know the truth, and truth is one of the most important things in the world—to know the truth and to always be truthful with others and, more importantly, with yourself. Believing in myths and fantasies just makes you unhappy.
Susan: Did you believe in Santa Claus when you were my age?
Susan: Were you unhappy?
Dorey: Well, when all the things that I believed in turned out not to be true, yes, I was unhappy.
Susan: Would it be okay if I thought about this more? Do I have to not believe in Santa Claus right away?
Dorey: […] You have the right to believe whatever you want to believe. Now, I’ve told you the truth, but if I’m wrong, I will be glad to admit it. I’ll tell you what. You ask Mr. Kringle for something you would never ask me for, and if on Christmas morning you don’t get it, you will know once and for all the honest truth about Santa Claus.
Susan: That’s a very clever idea.
What if we’re wrong? Would it be okay if I thought about this more? Do I have to not believe? Of course, my husband would admit that we could be wrong, that it is perfectly fine (and even very healthy) for me to think about this more, and that I can believe whatever I choose to believe. He would also encourage me to explore the motivations for my belief and insist that I seek truth and be truthful with myself. He is gentle with my heart and understands my deeply rooted desire to believe. He also understands that such a desire should give me pause and give me even greater reason to question belief in God. I am safe having this conversation with him (and of course he’ll read it on here anyway)—but it just seems silly. Kind of like a 6-year-old wanting to believe in Santa Claus after being told the truth.
Susan followed her mother’s suggestion, and when Christmas morning came, her every wish was fulfilled. I won’t devise some test by which God must prove himself to me—my faith is too weak to even go there. I won’t ask for health or prosperity or some miraculous display. I seek his face, not his hand. Children go to sleep on Christmas Eve with visions of sugarplums, imagining all the joy the next day brings. Tonight, I go to sleep with just one request. Could tomorrow hold its fulfillment?
In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.