I can still remember the anticipation I felt – as a child – waiting for Santa. My brother would usually wake up first – several times actually; 10pm, 12am, 2am, then finally at 5am — I would get up with him. I don’t think that kid even slept a wink; he was just so excited.
We had to wait until 6am to wake our Mom up though. It seemed like that hour took forever. Thank goodness our stockings were always right outside our bedroom doors, so we would go through those while we waited.
When I think back to some of my favorite Christmases; I can still feel the butterflies of excitement, the thrill of discovering I had received my most wished for gift and how happy I was to read the letter that Santa had left for me – ME!
Even though I can still tap into those feelings and the excitement of that time – part of me – wasn’t sure I really wanted to do the whole Santa thing with the boys. I really never expressed this to anyone (they would surely think I had lost my mind), and it’s hard to explain how someone – who loves everything about Christmas – could even consider, not allowing her children the same magical experience that she had, growing up.
Of course, Santa does visit our house, and this year the boys are over the moon with excitement. It’s amazing to see how everything is really clicking for them this year but — it again got me thinking, “Is Santa really a good thing to do? Does it take away from the true meaning of Christmas? Is it confusing them? How can I tell them lying is wrong, when here I am doing it?”
It’s been hard for me to really explain how we go from; “Santa visits you and brings you toys” to “We are celebrating Jesus’ birthday.” If it’s hard for me to figure out how to explain it, you can imagine how hard it would be for a preschool age child to understand it. Clearly — I needed to learn more.
The story of the first Santa
So, I decided to go in search of the first Santa – St. Nicholas.
I was very happy to discover a web site devoted to St. Nicholas. The St. Nicolas Center was able to really connect the dots for me. It showed me how I could incorporate Santa (which represents the spirit of giving) without feeling like I was taking away from the true meaning of Christmas; which if course is to celebrate God’s greatest gift — the birth of Jesus Christ.
To gain a better appreciation – and more understanding – of this wonderful man; I encourage you to visit the site yourself. There is a lot of great information to be gleaned from this web site and many activities geared toward children as well.
I can now explain to the boys that St. Nicholas was a man who loved Jesus very, very much! He loved Jesus so much that he decided to follow His teachings, and rid himself of all his worldly possessions. St. Nick was a kind and generous man who lived to make people happy, to protect children, and to provide for those in need.
St. Nicholas represents the spirit of giving — and there is the magic. When we give gifts out of love instead of obligation — that is when we can be joyful and experience the thrill and delight that the season brings.
Connecting Jesus to gift giving
Jesus is the meaning and the true reason for the Christmas season.
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.
Teaching children to give and give with love, is link that connects Santa and our Savior.
What does Christmas mean to you?