With Christmas just around the corner I already have my tree and decorations up, most of my presents bought and my Christmas Pandora station is on almost as much as it’s off. I’ve always loved Christmas time, maybe because it means no school but mostly because it seems like a magical time of year where people are extra giving and you can spend quality time with family.
Christmas is also, of course, a spiritual time for many. For me, Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is one of my favorite church activities of the year. The part of Christmas I always struggled with is Santa Claus. I never believed in Santa Claus as a kid, I’m not sure why. Growing up my mom was busy working full time and putting herself through college and as someone who didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas herself, I don’t think it occurred to her to tell me about Santa Claus. When my Grandma and I baked cookies, we ate them. When I read stories about Santa Claus I knew they were just that and when I woke up on Christmas morning to a room full of gifts I thanked my mom for each and every one, knowing how hard she worked to give them to me. As I grew older I heard many stories from my friends about the horror they faced when they realized that Santa wasn’t real and that they’re parents had been lying to them. These stories made me ask, why do parents do this? I’ve heard people say it’s to protect their child’s innocence. To me this argument is completely illogical. To find out your parents have lied to you will make you cynical more than trusting, not to mention that I don’t want any children of mine being comfortable with an old man sneaking into our house at night. Now many of you at this point are probably thinking me a devil’s advocate, determined to ruin the Christmas spirit. This is not the case. I think there is a reasonable compromise that allows you to be honest with your children while still having that dancing Santa on your coffee table each year. Tell your children about the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas lived in the third century in Greece and was well known for his generosity and kindness especially to the poor and to children. Stories of his giving and protection of children are the origins of the Santa Claus we know and are a true story worth telling. The story of St. Nicholas embodies the essence of Christmas as a time of giving to those in need rather than being good only to await gifts for yourself. I challenge each of you to think about why you have all of the traditions you have for any winter holiday you celebrate and how they shape you and your family. Hopefully those traditions are ones that bring your family together and strengthen the values your family cherishes.
I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season! If you want to learn more about St. Nicholas see the links below, or do some research of your own!