It is Christmas Eve and tonight I am wondering, "Do you believe in Santa?" My Mom always told us kids that as for as long as we believed Santa then would come. So, I continue to believe and he continues to come. But, I long for something more than belief.
This week I decided how I would like my kids (ages 4 and 9 months) to "figure outÂ" Santa. . . It is a strange idea, but it is an idea that is worth more than belief. It demands action.
This has probably been the best holiday season ever for our household. There is not one thing I can point to, but our family agrees this holiday season has been the best and holiest. Earlier this fall we had the privilege of making some new friends of people who survived both hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Our children have been right there with us, serving people, visiting with people who lost their homes, helping families move in, buying Christmas presents, eating dinners and on and on. Needless to say we've made some great friends out of people who were strangers.
However, it has been a learning experience for our family. One tough thing is that sometimes our kids have gone to parties where they do not get any presents. Our kids have gone to parties and had to wait until the end to eat. Our kids have even gone to parties and been unable to see Santa, because we let other kids go first. This may sound like cruel and unusual punishment. I hope not. They are taking it very well.
Two nights ago we delivered trash bags to several families. They were thrilled to receive trash bags because they were filled with presents for their children. These angel tree gifts go to families who have some member of their family incarcerated. Again, there were our kids in the cold with red and green clothes on and even red caps with balls delivering Christmas cheer.
So, here is what I want my kids to "figure out" about Christmas. I hope that they become so caught up in giving gifts and spreading the joy of the Lord that they forget about Santa Claus. I hope that instead of wishing for the heavy set gift-bearing man in red that they will become like the real man known as Saint Nicholas. There is a difference between these two holiday fellas named Santa and St. Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas was a historical figure who walked the earth in the third century. He was born in modern day Turkey and was raised a devote Christian. His parents died when he was a child, but left him an inheritance. Nicholas used this inheritance by taking Jesus' words seriously to "sell all that you own and give it to the poor" (Gospel of Luke 18:22). He was a Christian man who tossed gifts in open windows, brought joy to the poor, the suffering and the hurting. He is best known for his help with three poor young girl's dowries. In ancient times, a female needed a dowry (financial sum of money or property) to get married. No dowry, meant no marriage and worse - slavery. Mysteriously three bags of gold were tossed in the windows of the poor man with the three daughters. The gold landed in shoes and socks hung by an open window to dry. This led to the modern day ritual of hanging stockings for gifts and of the giving of oranges. In essence, Saint Nicholas was a man who simply lived like Jesus Christ. (Learn more about St. Nicholas here)
I am ready to do more than believe in Saint Nicholas, my family and I want to become Saint Nicholas. Not that we put value in "saints" or want to be granted some title. No, I want to become a person who lives a year-round Christ-like lifestyle.