In our home, Santa Claus (aka Saint Nicholas) visits each year on Christmas Eve delivering gifts and treats to the children in our home as a passed-down tradition. St. Nicholas’ ancient practice of secretly filling the stockings of his town’s poor children is the basis for this Christmas tradition. We remember that Nicholas carried out this practice with the Christian belief of giving anonymously, so as not to take credit for generous deeds.
Each year, our children write a letter to St. Nick describing how “good and giving they’ve been this past year”, and include a list of two desired gifts. They place this letter in their stockings on the night of December 6th (the Feast of St. Nicholas), seeing the next morning that their lists were taken during the night. As parents, we love this practice, because after that point, there can be no wish-list revisions! 🙂
Our childrens’ Catholic elementary/middle school provides us with a list of children in need our local area each year, and along with each child is a list of items that he or she would like that Christmas. In many cases, the gifts asked for on this list are the only gifts that these children will receive that year. So, we choose one child from the list and place his or her wishes in an extra stocking. We then pick out one or two of the listed items, wrap, and then have our kids deliver the gift(s) to their school on behalf of St. Nick! They get to be his “helpers”, and have an opportunity to experience the important blessing of giving!
Many families believe that continuing the tradition of Santa Claus is “lying to their children”. Many Christians believe that Santa Claus is a pagan, secular, commercial figure who distracts from the focus of Jesus’ birth as the basis for this holiday celebration. I can understand this position, but we believe that St. Nick (a very devout Catholic Christian in his day) loved our Lord very much, and celebrated His birth by continuing the tradition of giving as did the wise men (the three kings or Maji) when they brought precious gifts to the new born King.
As our children grow up and realize that an actual man in a red suit does NOT come down our chimney to deliver gifts, we share with them that, because they now have learned the secret behind Santa Claus, they may now as “big kids” help continue our tradition for their younger siblings, so that they, too, can experience the joy, anticipation, wonder and excitement of the spirit of St. Nick, along with anticipation and celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
One day, Santa will no longer come to our home, and we’ll look back, never regretting the joy and excitement that this tradition brought to our children and to us!
Please share your thoughts!