We avoid Santa wrapping paper, Santa movies, Santa ornaments, Santa decorations, and (heaven forbid) Santa songs.
Instead we put up manger scenes, celebrate Advent, and play Handel's 'Messiah,' and we run interference with our kids, trying to un-teach them everything they're picking up from friends (and teachers!) at school about Santa.
|Dutch St. Nicholas and Black Peter (public domain image)|
So, while I'm not ready to bring my children to the mall and have them sit on the lap of a seasonal employee and ask for more stuff, maybe it's time I told them about the real St. Nick. In our violent and me-centered culture, we could all use more heroes. And, if gift-giving is inspired in part by this Christian bishop from so long ago, why not say so? Someone known for his generosity is a good role model to have.
My "conversion" came too late this year to start any new traditions with the kids, but next year we'll have to think about how we can emulate the generosity and kindness of a man who lived so long ago. St. Nicholas will take his place among all the other heroes of the faith, like St. Patrick, St. Augustine, John Calvin, and Amy Carmichael. I'm sorry it took me so long.