When Mom looked up from peeling the potatoes for supper, she saw Lucas standing in the kitchen doorway with a furrowed brow and a book in his hand. “What are you reading that makes you look so serious?” Mom questioned, wiping her hands on a towel.
“This.” Lucas held up his book so that Mom could see the cover.
Mom sat in a kitchen chair and lifted Lucas onto her lap. “I thought that The Night Before Christmas was one of your happy books,” she said.
“It is, Mom, but why is Santa smoking a pipe?” Lucas asked. “Isn’t he a Latter-day Saint like us?”
Mom was quiet for a bit as they looked at the picture of Santa with his pipe making a circle of smoke around his head. “I guess,” she said slowly, “that maybe the missionaries haven’t been to the North Pole yet to teach him about the restored gospel and about why it’s so important not to smoke.”
“But, Mom, everybody knows Santa Claus. Why hasn’t someone told him?”
“I don’t know,” Mom answered, stroking Lucas’s hair gently. “I guess someone really should.” Then she gave Lucas a squeeze and asked, “Do you want to help me peel the potatoes?”
“No thanks, Mom,” he replied. “I need some ‘time out to think’ time.”
“OK, Champ, but don’t be late for supper,” she said as he slid off her lap and headed for his bedroom.
Lucas climbed onto his bed, lay on his stomach, and opened his book again to the page with Santa smoking. All that year they had been learning in Primary about being missionaries. Sister Franklin had said that even a Sunbeam could be a missionary. Santa must have held a lot of Sunbeams on his lap. Hadn’t even one of them told Santa about being a Mormon? Suddenly Lucas scrambled off the bed, ran over to his bookshelves, put away his storybook, and took his favorite book from the shelf. He had a happy smile on his face when he went into the living room. He had a plan.
That night after supper Lucas asked Mom and Dad to come to his bedroom for a meeting. Mom didn’t even wash the dishes first, because she could tell that this was an important meeting to Lucas. When his parents were seated on the bed, Lucas showed them a package wrapped in newspaper comics. “Billy Anderson said that Santa is going to be at the mall this Saturday. I want give this to him.”
“You want to give Santa a present?” Dad asked. “That’s wonderful. Do you mind if we ask what it is, Son?”
Lucas showed Dad the page in his storybook with Santa and the pipe. “You see, Dad, I don’t think that Santa is a member of the Church. Mom said that maybe no one has told him about Heavenly Father’s plan and about not smoking. So I want to give him the Book of Mormon that you gave me when we started to read it as a family. I thought that you and Mom could give me another one for Christmas. That way Santa will know about what’s important, and maybe he’ll stop smoking that pipe.”
Dad reached out and pulled Lucas onto his lap. Mom reached over and patted his hand. Her eyes were watery, and Dad’s were too. That surprised Lucas a little. “It’s all right to give my Book of Mormon to Santa, isn’t it, Dad?”
“Yes, Son. It’s more than all right—it’s terrific! I’m very proud of you, Lucas. I’m proud that you want to be a missionary and share the gospel with others.”
Mom said, “Lucas, why don’t you let me help you write your testimony in the front of the book. You can put your name and address inside so that Santa will know who cares so much about him. Then you can wrap it again in Christmas paper, and I bet I can even find a bow for you to put on top. Would you like that?”
“Yea! All right!” Lucas yelled, ripping off the wrapping as fast as he could.
Dad took a pen out of his shirt pocket and handed it to Mom.
“Dear Santa,” Lucas began, “I am worried about you because I saw in a picture that you smoke. Smoking is bad for you. Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be good to our bodies. This book is all about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I read it with my family every day. It makes me happy. You are so nice to all the children that I want you to be happy too.”
“That sounds great, Son,” Dad said. “I’m glad to hear that reading the Book of Mormon as a family makes you happy.”
“I want to write my name,” Lucas told Mom. “You can write our phone number under it.”
Afterward Dad did the dishes while Mom helped Lucas cut, fold, and tape the Christmas wrapping paper. Lucas put a big gold bow on last, and the gift looked super. Then Mom put it on top of the refrigerator so that nothing would happen to it before Saturday.
On Saturday morning there was a long line of children waiting at the mall to sit on Santa’s lap. It was hard for Lucas to wait, but finally his turn came. He was so excited that he jumped onto Santa’s lap.
“Well,” Santa exclaimed, “aren’t you happy today! And what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?”
“Nothing,” Lucas said. “I just want to give you this.” He handed the gift to Santa, give him a hug, and ran back to his mom and dad. When he looked over his shoulder, Santa was just sitting there, looking a little surprised.
That night Lucas was brushing his teeth when the phone rang. Dad answered it and talked for a few minutes, then called Lucas. “The phone call’s for you, Lucas. It’s Santa Claus.”
“Wow! Really?” he shouted as he ran to the phone.
“Hello, Lucas. Remember me? You sat on my lap and gave me a present this morning.”
“Sure I remember. Did you read the Book of Mormon?”
“Well, I haven’t had time to read the whole thing,” the voice on the phone said with a chuckle. “I had to work all day. But I did read what you wrote in it and the first few pages. I was wondering if I could come over tonight and meet your mom and dad.”
“Great!” Lucas exclaimed. “I’ll ask them. Dad, Mom, Santa wants to know if he can come over to our house tonight. He can, can’t he?”
“Sure he can,” Dad answered. “Why don’t you let me talk to him for a few minutes after you finish so I can make sure that he knows how to find our house.”
“Dad, he’s Santa Claus. He knows where everyone lives.”
“You’re probably right, but I’d still like to talk to him. It’s not every day that Santa Claus calls on the phone.”
Lucas grinned. “It’s OK with my dad,” he said, “and anything OK with him is OK with Mom.” He handed Dad the phone and ran into the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth.
When Lucas went back to the living room, he asked, “Do you think he’ll come in his sleigh?”
“No,” Dad answered. “He’ll be driving a dark blue car. We need to talk about that for a few minutes, OK?”
Lucas said, “If you mean that he’s not really Santa, but just one of Santa’s helpers, I already know that. His beard didn’t fit him very good, and he was a lot skinnier than Santa is.”
“Then you won’t be surprised when this Santa comes to the door as a young college man?”
“No, I could tell by his voice that he wasn’t an old man. And the real Santa would have to be pretty old if he were flying around when your were little.”
“Well, then, you know, Lucas,” Dad said, “that the most important thing is that you tried to share the Book of Mormon with someone, whether or not he was the real Santa.”
“I know. Missionaries teach everyone they can.”
Just then a car pulled into the driveway. Lucas jumped up and ran out the door before the young man even had time to get out of his car.
“Come in, Santa Claus,” he shouted. “We’re going to tell you all about the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ and everything!”
Valentine Day was on Saturday that year, and Lucas got dressed in his Sunday clothes. He took an extra long time washing his face and brushing his hair so that he’d look just right.
“Are you ready, Lucas?” Mom called from the living room. “John is here.”
John was the Santa Claus helper, and today he was going to be baptized. Lucas shook John’s hand, and then John reached down and picked him up. “How about a hug, too?” he asked.
“Sure,” Lucas said, squeezing with all his might. “You may be only Santa’s helper, John,” he whispered, “but you’re the best Santa in the world to me.”
“And you’re the best missionary in the world to me,” John whispered back.