Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
I still remember the day as if it were yesterday. Mom had taken my older brother, Jim, and I to the mall to go Christmas shopping. That’s when it happened. Jim blurted out that Santa Claus wasn’t real! I was shocked! “What do you mean, Santa isn’t real?” Mom and dad had told me every Christmas that Santa Claus was coming to our house on Christmas Eve to bring presents to good liitle girls and boys. How couldn’t he be real? Then Jim gave me even more bad news, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny weren’t real either. This was just way too much information for a little boy to handle!
Most parents understand the trauma I went through as a kid when I discovered that Santa Claus was a myth. That he didn’t really live on the North Pole, make toys, have elves, or go on a world wind adventure every Christmas Eve with a sleigh full of toys and eight tiny reindeer. So many kids get disillusioned when they find out that part of the magic of Christmas is just a ficticious story. But I’ve got some good news! It doesn’t have to be that way. There really is a “jolly old St. Nicholas!”
Sure, he doesn’t live in the North Pole or have a reindeer named Rudolf with a very shiny nose, but St. Nicholas is a very real person that your kids might enjoy learning more about during the Christmas season.
The real St. Nicholas lived in the fourth century A.D. in the city of Myra which is located in modern day Turkey. He was a Jesus follower when it wasn’t cool to be a Christian. In fact, Nicholas was put in prison because of his faith during the persecution of the Roman Emporer Docletian. After his release from prison, Nicholas, who was a pastor (bishop) of the church in Myra, attended the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. where he helped write the Nicene Creed.
Now here’s the really cool part. Not only was Nicholas a Jesus follower, but he lived out his faith in a really cool way. He took the Apostle Paul’s advice in Philippians 2:5-7, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…taking the form of a servant,” and Nicholas used his wealth helping out children and others who were in need. That’s where the legend of Santa Claus giving presents to children all got started.
People were amazed at the way that Nicholas cared for people in need and so, after he died on December 6, 343 A.D., he was declared a “saint.” People in Europe have celebrated the living faith and generosity of St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6) for hundreds of years. It’s from this celebration that the origins of Santa Claus later came into being.
So, if you want to celebrate Christmas this year in an out of the box kind of way, introduce your kids to the real St. Nicholas. Take some time this Christmas season to tell them his story. Need help? Here’s a link to online St. Nicholas resources: stories, games and coloring pages that you and your kids can share together. Better yet, follow in St. Nicholas’ footsteps and take some time together to help someone in need. Give away some groceries or presents to a neighborhood family who recently became unemployed. Visit a shut-in or a hospital patient. It’s a great way to make the faith of St. Nicholas come to life today! That way when your kids someday discover the truth about Santa Claus, they’ll have something real that they can hang onto. St. Nicholas is the man!!
Merry Christmas and have a great St. Nicholas Day!