As my wife and I figure out what to tell our daughter about Santa (gratefully, this can probably wait one more year), I think we can be so tempted as believers in Christ to throw out all modern incarnations of Christmas. So, my little research journey led me to The Legend of St. Nicholas. https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus
What sticks out to me from the story of St. Nicholas? First, he was born near Turkey. This is a simple reminder that we can be so Western- focused in all of our thinking. Did you know that 3 popes were from Africa or the children of African immigrants to Rome? Or that St. Augustine was born in Algeria? We have so much to learn from our brothers and sisters around the world. Second, he is said to have saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by providing them with a dowry. This is a stark reminder to me of the importance of economic development. The “issue” with these sisters may have been a heart thing for their father (we of course don’t know), but it seems it was also an economic issue. Having walked through the slums of Cambodia and India, I do believe strongly in economic development as a critical piece in the restoration of people’s hopes and lives. And finally, the importance of searching our own hearts. It is absolutely fantastic to have money to give gifts and to receive gifts. And yet, good old St. Nick is said to have “given away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside, helping the poor and sick”. Does that mean we all need to do that- surely not. Would it be a great exercise to balance the gift giving season with taking an internal look at where our joy comes from? Probably yes (definitely for myself). And with that, a Merry Christmas to you all, a thank you for walking with me on your own spiritual journeys, and a thank you to God for the internal joy of being alive and the privilege of community with other people and with His Son.