Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dear Santa...

We live in a Santa culture.  It's the truth.  And as much as I don't care for the over-materialized frenzy December brings, it doesn't appear to be falling out of fashion.

Our kids grow up singing, "You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I'm telling you why...Santa Claus is coming to town."  They watch shows like The Grinch, The Santa Claus, Rudolph and of course, Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  We hang stockings, write wish lists and letters, and set out cookies and milk before bedtime on Christmas Eve.  We visit Kris Kringle better known as Santa Claus at local malls, whisper wishes in his ear and have our photos taken with him.

Our kids with Santa

This year I surprised my Grandma and told her she was also having her photo taken with Santa.
She was a little embarrassed, but also seemed a little excited!

It really is a crazy thing if you think about it, but this is what Christmas American tradition looks like and I'm guessing there are similar themes around the globe. Worldwide, Santa may have a different name, but children still await the magical experience and the gifts.

I love the story of the original Santa, St. Nicholas, and share it with our kids.  The sacrifice he made to help others is admirable.

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Another story often associated with St. Nicolas is this one:

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver. 

So, St. Nicolas, the first true Santa was a gift-giver!  Giving the gift, providing for the dowry of three young women so they could marry and not be sold into slavery.

Thinking on the dowry...although we don't have a necessary dowry requirement in our culture any longer, around the world this tradition continues.  Years ago, I helped raise money for some friends in Uganda to pay a dowry of cows, goats, fruit etc.  A friend of mine is currently helping a young man in Uganda raise his dowry so he may marry.  St. Nicholas would be proud!

The couple we helped now have two beautiful girlies!

Back to Santa...

On the night before Christmas, our daughter set out a plate of cookies and cup of milk.  After setting out the treats, she proceeded to place an important letter she wrote to Santa next to the treats.

Her letter read:

hi Santa i have a question
was there a hole bunch of santa's or just one
check yes or no
and if yes plese say how many and plese wake me up to see you
yes___  no___
how meny?

The letter was genuine and heartfelt.  She anticipated his visit, but even more hoped for a response.

The next morning she rushed downstairs to see if he had responded.

Here's what she found...

Dearest Arabella,

Merry Christmas!

You are such a smart young girl!  That’s what I love about you.  I heard about your big win with the essay contest.  Well Done!

So your question…How many Santa’s are there?  Well, my dear, there is just one yet there are many people in your life who show you love, generosity and joy.  We all work together to make this life magical, exciting and a much better place to live in.

I love your honest questions, childlike faith and heartfelt curiosity.  Hold on to these traits.

I am sorry My Dear, but I can’t visit.  I must be off! Hawaii is waiting for me!

Blessings to you!

And always remember who were celebrating this season- Jesus!  He is the giver of All Good and Perfect Gifts!

You are Loved!

So there was the response.  She was very excited about it and stashed it away in her "box" where all good things are kept.

Parenting can sometimes bring up tough questions.  I don't honestly know how to answer every question that comes up.  There are instances where I'm not sure if we're doing the right thing or not.

Determining how one chooses to handle and/or answer questions surrounding Santa is up to each particular family.  There are absolutes in life and ultimately the truth is the best answer, but I like to preserve wonder and merriment when possible too.

There was a St. Nicholas.  He was a gift giver.  Additionally, there are people in our lives who work to bring about joy in keeping the magic of the season alive. Christmas is a magical season!  We celebrate God coming to earth as a baby born unto a virgin!  WOW!

It is all about Jesus, and it's also about gifts, family, celebration and fun!

Some explanations are best left to be dreamed of and wondered about.  The joy in our child's eyes, her innocent questions, and the hope she has is a surprisingly wonderful gift to us.

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