|Image from www.wikipaintings.org|
I think it is really important to tell the truth, as much as we can, as I'm sure you do. *Truth...whether it is the truth of scripture or whether it has to do with being truthful and not bearing false witness...is always vital. At Christmas there is a truth that I believe should be told too...of course, 2nd only to the truth of Jesus' birth. Truth, whatever it may be, is important to God...as it always fits into life better (like a puzzle piece in a puzzle) and makes the world less confusing. Truth also helps lessen hearsay and superstitions...as well as discourages our tendency to demonize things that really just need more truth applied to them.
The true story of Santa Claus starts with a person called Nicholas. He was born during the third century in the village of Patara...which is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His parents raised him to be a devout Christian, and although his wealthy father was hesitant to bless young Nicholas' desire to dedicate his whole life to the church, Nicholas' heart to serve God made him feel as though he could do no less.
His parents died while Nicholas was still young, and Nicholas of course inherited their wealth. However, because of his desire to be obedient to God, he took Jesus words, "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," to heart and used his whole inheritance to help those in need. Then in time he was made Bishop of Myra, and became known for his service to the poor and his love and concern for children...as well as his concern for those who were traveling at sea.
Under Emperor Diocletian, who maliciously persecuted Christians, he suffered for his faith, and was imprisoned. The prisons were so full of those being persecuted, there was no room for the murderers, thieves and robbers. Upon his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He spent his days in service, then later died on December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).
Humans have a tendency to embellish and I dare say, every time we pass on a story it changes. (remember the game, 'Telephone'?) Subsequently many legends, even from right after his death, have grown about Bishop Nicholas. Therefore, I think it is important to tell our children the truth about a man who endeavored to serve God in the best way he knew how, instead of just omitting Santa Claus from Christmas or demonizing him. In fact, this can be another opportunity to share the Christ of Christmas with those who have included Santa Claus in their Christmas.
Blessings to you!!
* Truth - a thought and question for another time...do you think it is always right to tell the truth? As I have been in conversations with people who said it was even right to have told the truth to the Nazis when they asked you, a hider of Jews, if indeed you were hiding them.