Thursday, December 5, 2013

What to Do About Santa

Today we are taking Esme and Reid to have their picture taken with Santa.  Tomorrow, we will be putting their little shoes outside their bedroom doors at bedtime so that St. Nicholas can fill them. 

In years past, Esme hasn't really been into the whole Santa thing, but at three, this year she is starting to make the connection between Santa and gifts.  For me, Santa is not the reason for the season, but neither is Santa a bone of contention.  That is, it doesn't really bother me that Santa and Jesus occupy some common space this time of year.  However, it is important to me that our kids know that the spirit of Christmas is rooted in God's love shown to us in the baby Jesus.

What I like about lifting up Saint Nicholas (St. Nicholas day is December 6) is that Saint Nicholas's legacy is one of generosity and concern for the poor.  Legend has it that one night, as St. Nicholas was passing by a widow's door, he was inspired to do something to help the poor.  So he went to church and "knelt in prayer to ask a way that he could care." 

From there, he got the idea to fill his stocking with gold coins and then toss it at the widow's door.  But as he threw the stocking, he threw it too high and it ended up going down the chimney.  The widow found the stocking, filled with gold coins, among the ashes in her fireplace, and when she did, she decided the most perfect thing to do would be to host a feast for the whole neighborhood.

What a great story to pass on to our kids-- a story that encompasses the giving spirit of Christmas and that teaches the cyclical nature of generosity.  These values relate directly to the way I believe God wants us to live, which of course stems from God's loving generosity to begin with.  For that reason, I don't have any problem having my kids grow up with Santa, St. Nick, and Jesus.  But it will probably be a few years before they are able to voice the difference between all of them.

If you are looking for a way to talk to your kids about Santa, you might want to check out Richard Jorgenson's poem, How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus.  He does a great job of describing the legend of St. Nick, while also explaining how most of our modern images for Santa come from Clement Moore's poem, The Night Before Christmas and how Santa got his name. 

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