About a week ago, a friend of mine lamented that her 9 year old daughter was pressuring her to "be honest" about Santa Claus. She demanded to know if what her friends in school said were true. Is there really a Santa? Can he really fly around the world delivering toys in one night?
My friend had taken to Facebook in the hopes of getting a good response from us. I told her what I planned to tell Vincent one day, but I admitted it only worked if her daughter had a good grasp of who Saint Nicholas really was.
This is the first year Vincent understands what Christmas is beyond presents. This is his first year understanding who Santa Claus is. Truthfully, this is mostly my fault because I never pressed the issue. I never wanted to stress Santa over Jesus, so I never made a big deal about Santa. I never talked about him outside of "We're getting pictures with Santa."
I never threatened him with "If Santa sees you being naughty, you won't get any presents." I also never talked about Santa coming down the chimney to deliver presents to get Vince psyched about Christmas.
In fact, come Christmas morning, Vince was usually surprised to see presents under the tree at all! Ha ha.
Anyway, I figured I should frame the "Santa story" in as correct a way as possible so when it came his turn to confront me about the validity of the story, I'd have a leg to stand on.
Here is the story I wrote and have been telling Vincent the last few weeks. I'm contemplating getting someone with artistic skills to help me with illustrations so I can make a keepsake book for him.
So hey - if you guys know any good illustrators...
Nicholas - The Boy Who Would Be Santa
Once upon a time there lived a boy named Nicholas.
Nicholas loved the sea. He lived in Patara, a beautiful town with a large shipping port. Every day, Nicholas and the other children would run to the docks to watch sailors as they worked aboard ships from all over the world. These ships would bring treasures from far-away places, and Nicholas enjoyed watching the other children as their eyes glistened at all the new and mysterious goods they saw.
Nicholas also grew up loving Jesus. In fact, he loved Jesus so much that he would always try to delight Him with tiny gifts.
Once, a sailor gave little Nicholas a bunch of sweet red grapes. Nicholas quickly gave them to his neighbor, Nina, who chased him through the town trying to hug him in thanks. Poor Nicholas blushed for weeks! He had just wanted to give her the grapes because it would make her happy. Nicholas knew that making her happy would make Jesus happy; he didn’t want to be chased around town with gratitude!
So from that day forward, little Nicholas promised he’d make Jesus smile in secret.
Each time he had an extra shirt or pair of socks, he’d secretly pass them along to a friend who needed them.
If he was given special fruit or sweets from the sailors, he’d hide them in the shoes and stockings of children as they slept in their beds.
He’d even complete chores for people who seemed to be too tired – all in total secrecy!
He was like the CIA of Good Will!
All throughout Patara, people were filled with joy and gratitude because of Nicholas. Nicholas, for his part, offered all his works to Jesus. He knew that every smile was a present for Jesus, and that made Nicholas happy.
As Nicholas grew into a man, he decided to serve Jesus as a priest. He wanted to bring Jesus to everyone and teach his people to love God as much as He did. In fact, he was such a loving, holy priest that he was made a bishop! As bishop, Nicholas worked even harder to teach people about Jesus and how much Jesus loved them.
However, Nicholas was still up to his old tricks. When his people would come to him for help, he would pray to God on their behalf. Then, if he could, Nicholas would sneak out quietly to give these families the food, money or clothing they needed. All of this he would do for love of Jesus. He knew that Jesus was using him to answer the prayers of the people, and again, Nicholas felt happy.
As Nicholas got older, the people of Greece finally began realizing that their “Wonder-Worker” had been their beloved bishop all along. When Nicholas became too old to sneak out to gift people their needs, others began following his example. All over Greece, regular people began helping their neighbors in secret, just like Nicholas. And just like Nicholas, these nice and generous people offered their service for the love of Jesus.
When Nicholas was 73, he passed away, just before Christmas. His heartbroken people knew that he was going to Heaven to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with Him, so instead of crying for him, they celebrated with him.
In fact, every year, on the anniversary of Nicholas’ death, people all over the world celebrate with him by surprising their families with little gifts just as Saint Nicholas had done. And on Christmas Eve, Saint Nicholas, now known as Santa Claus, still blesses the children of God in honor of Jesus, his beloved Savior.
So hey - if you know any illustrators out there, pass them my way. I really want to make this into a real book for him. :)
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