See….St. Nick was a real guy. He was born in A.D. 280, in Myra, which is modern day Turkey. He was born into wealth and had a deep interest in Christ from an early age. He seemed to base his life on 2 principles: 1 John 3:17, ”If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” and Matthew 6:3-4,”But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
When a wealthy merchant-friend of his lost everything in a violent storm at sea, Nicholas knew he had the resources to help him. His friend would be embarrassed to take “charity” and would want to pay him back so he decided, one dark night, to take a bag of gold coins and drop them through the open window of the eldest daughter’s room. Some fell into a stocking that had been hung out to dry.
News spread and everyone wondered who the identity of this anonymous donor could be. The afterglow of that experience warmed his heart drawing his attention to the poor and suffering people in and around Myra. He soon made Mathew 25:35-36 his motto: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink….I needed clothes and you clothed me…”
For the remainder of his life, he consistently cared for the poor. He employed people to make clothing for the needy and distribute food to the hungry. He even hired a wood-carver to make simple toys for the children. The only condition he placed on these activities was a request that his identity be kept a secret during his lifetime. He often baked bread, mixing sugar and exotic spices that came to be known as gingerbread.
He died on Dec 6, A.D. 343. This day began to be celebrated as St Nicholas Day.
What we have tried to do is celebrate Santa by remembering St. Nick. Each year, St Nick comes on Dec 6th and fills the sprouts stockings with goodies. We try to bake gingerbread cookies and distribute them to neighbors and we try to anonymously bless a family or 2 in need with traditional St Nick items like:
- A stocking to hold the coins and gifts because the gold fell in the girl’s stockings and shoes
- A mesh bag of chocolate gold coins because Nicholas tossed real bags of gold (Trader Joes has these this year!)
- A wooden gift remembering Nicholas hired a wood carver to make toys for the children.
- An article of clothing, remembering his concern to clothe the poor.
- A favorite food item, remembering his generosity in feeding people.
- A gingerbread cookie, with a pointed bishop’s hat, like Nicholas had.
Then, after Dec 6th, all Santa décor comes down to be now focused on the birth of Christ.
It’s all good, but here’s the problem. No one else does this! So, all December long over the last few years, the sprouts have gotten more and more confused as people ask them the traditional December question, “what do you want Santa to bring you?” To which they always tell the silly adult, “ He already came!”
Adult looks at me with questioning eyes then back to the Sprout at hand…”No I mean this year, what do you want for Christmas?” Sprout then tries to explain…no success then leaves the conversation feeling bad for the many adults that were clearly not good enough to get a Santa visit this year.
Then this year, the final Princess Sprout question sent StudHusband and I into fits of laughter at me – a mom that clearly cannot get this simple December holiday straight. She asked, “Is St Nick still alive?” To which I unwittingly answered, “No. He died.”
Stud Husband about crashed the car as he listened to this crazy wife of his trying to bring meaning into Christmas by calmly assuring her 5 year old that St Nick (or Santa in her little mind) is dead/
Santa’s dead? She asked, shocked and mortally devastated.
(quick! Fix this!! She can’t be going to school announcing that st nick is dead.)
So, I tried to explain that Santa is not dead. He got inspired by St Nick’s life and love for Jesus so he will, indeed, now be showing up at our home on Dec 25th (Instead of on Dec 6th for stockings and then again on the 25gh), like he does around the world for all good children (my husband reminded me). And on Dec 6th, we will skip the St. Nick coming to fill stockings with toys and instead, spend all that money on food and warm clothes for the family in need that we have chosen to bless this Christmas.
Finally! We have a plan!!