The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there...
According to one story about the real St. Nicholas, the original stockings belonged to three maidens who lived in his province of Lycia.
Their father, having lost his fortune, was unable to provide for their dowries, and the girls were going to be sold into slavery. When Nicholas heard this, he was greatly troubled, and determined to help secretly. Late one evening, after the family's stockings had been hung up to dry, he threw a bag of gold through the window -- and the gift landed in a stocking.Do you remember the moment when you stopped believing in Santa Claus? Or do you still believe?
Did you debate whether to tell your kids about him? Did you worry that when the spell of childhood magic was broken, you'd be left with a disillusioned, cynical son or daughter who has trouble believing in miracles -- even believing you?
I worried, too. And yet, I couldn't let go of the magic, the miracle of Santa.
Maybe I was especially blessed with faith as a child. Maybe my mother just did things right. I don't remember a moment of disillusionment. I don't remember when I recognized Santa's handwriting as my mother's. I know I did -- but she continued to sign presents "From Santa" even into my adulthood!
I know that finding out one's parents have been filling your stockings has traumatized a lot of children. I didn't want to stop believing in Santa. My mother never made that necessary. I don't remember her lying about it. But she may have mentioned that parents could be elves.
Being one of Santa's elves has been more complicated than I anticipated. For one thing, I realized I hated giving up the credit of my planning, purchasing and generosity to a man in a funny red suit I'd never even met. But therein lies my lesson...
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 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.One thing seems clear, St. Nicholas wasn't looking for credit for his generosity.
I don't want my kids to stop believing in the possibility of unseen generosity. I'm determined to remain a faithful elf. But the questions are coming.
St. Nicholas, please help!
Is Santa Claus real? Absolutely. But most of the modern images we see don't look much like him.
St. Nicholas was a real boy, an orphan in third century Asia Minor, whose parents were Christians, and who grew to be a faithful servant of our Lord. He was the youngest person ever to be appointed a church bishop, and was revered for his faithfulness, charity, humility and commitment to justice. More churches are named for him than any other saint.
Bishop Nicholas served on the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 335 A.D., and so had a hand in writing The Nicene Creed. Miraculous stories followed him even after his death on December 6, 343.
In many countries, Santa doesn't come on Christmas Eve. He comes the night of December 5, so that the children find gifts from St. Nicholas on the morning of his feast day.
Only for the last 200 years or so, beginning in the United States, have the traditions of St. Nicholas Day been combined with our celebration of Christmas.
Did you do anything to observe St. Nicholas Day yesterday?
I was less prepared than I hoped to be. I gathered books about St. Nicholas from the library, and we broke out the Veggie Tales version of St. Nicholas: A Story of Giving last week. Our busy weekend interfered with my desire to have the house decorated and gingerbread cookies baked.
Eldest was especially interested in the beautifully-written stories about Bishop Nicholas in "The Real Santa Claus" by Marianna Mayer. Littlest enjoyed the tale of "The Baker's Dozen."
I'm intrigued by the idea of separating Santa's activities from the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus, although I don't know that I'm ready to change our Christmas morning tradition. I do share the concern about Santa Claus and gift-receiving interfering with the celebration of the coming of the Messiah.
I have always told my boys that Santa loves Jesus and the gifts that arrive from him on Christmas morning are his way of celebrating Christ's birth and teaching us generosity. We have a long way to go to emulate St. Nicholas's example of caring for the poor and needy as Jesus told us to do, but we are learning.
Have you told your children about Bishop Nicholas of Myra? Does the Spirit of Christmas live on at your house in the form of Santa?