Monday, December 5, 2011

Santa Claus is St Nicholas!

 With the feast of St Nicholas coming up tomorrow, 
I thought today would be a good day 
to talk about him.
This is our sweet Colette above with St Nicholas.
Look at her expression and his happy face!!
Oh, the innocence of a child at Christmas, it brings tears to my eyes.
I know there is quite a controversial thing with Santa Claus among parents these days.
And some people get down right huffy about it.
(they are usually the same people who think nothing about celebrating Halloween though
We celebrate Halloween, I'm just sayin')
I just really think it has to be people and their experience with him, while they were growing up.
I know my brother and his wife don't celebrate "Santa" because she felt betrayed by her parents
when she found out, and I remember my brother running upstairs crying "Noooooo!" when he 
found out about Santa.
They didn't want to lie to their children.

When I found out about Santa, my cousin Terry told me, right before Christmas,
 I was in second grade.
I remember asking my mom about it and her sitting on the steps with me, 
I remember her having that look of disappointment and well, she told me.
It was and is still the best Christmas I've ever had.
I couldn't believe my parents loved me that much to actually buy us "extra" presents.
I felt so loved as I helped her set out Santa stuff for my brother and baby sister.

Now, because of my experience, this is how we've told our kiddos.
My 2 oldest know and it was told in this way,
"Because we love you so much...."

I really don't think he takes away from the true meaning of Christmas, 
at least not with us.
Jesus is the reason and my kids know that.  
Santa is just about joy and the love he has for children and the love he has for Baby Jesus.
Santa Claus is St Nicholas, who lives in Heaven, and has no wife.
The kids think that is pretty funny how the world changes something that 
started out so religious and has deep meaning, into something that is not.

We actually don't usually go to Santa and sit on his lap and tell what we want...
Because we don't focus on the gifts, I throw away all those magazines I get in the mail 
each night...I'm not saying they don't look before I do this, because they do, but our focus is not just the gifts.
We buy the kiddos a couple gifts from us to open Christmas Eve 
after we've gone to Mass
and 
they get one gift from Santa Claus with stocking stuff Christmas morning.
(we happened to be at Sam's Club and there was no line, and it was free, and the girls looked at me
like "Can we?"  Now, how could I resist?  Then, we had to go back of course for Colette, since 
she was not with me!)


 We have a little statue like this sitting out for Christmas 
And one of our favorite Christmas stories is this one about 
St Nicholas in Heaven, with all the angels, getting ready for the birth of Christ.
Santa has his toys and his bag and his sleigh, 
but he stops for what is most important first
to see Jesus in the Manger and kneels down in Adoration.

Life is totally what we make of it 
and how it is portrayed, especially to our children.
Any huffy people out there? 
What do you think and how is this portrayed to your children?
And
why do you believe and celebrate the way you do?


I honestly have no judgements here, I really think to each his own on this controversial Santa issue.
It's fun to see other people's traditions and why they do the things they do to make 
Christmas special.

For fun ideas of how to make St Nicholas day special go to Catholic Cuisine, some of the ideas are even mine!
So tonite we will put out our church shoes (they are the cleanest ones) 
and St Nicholas will come and fill them with chocolate coins and candy 
and in the morning we will read about St Nicholas and his love for all.
Especially Jesus.

18 comments:

  1. Okay- so I have to comment on this one! I have heard the arguments on both sides too, and totally feel the same was you do. I think the tradition of Santa Claus can be a truly beautiful part of Christmas if handled correctly. We have always told our children that what Jesus most wants for His birthday is to see them happy, and so He has asked Santa Claus to bring His birthday gifts to them, out of love.

    They understand that Santa is St. Nicholas and that, like all saints, he wants to serve Christ in all he does. I think our children can appreciate all the magic and joy of the season, both with and without Santa, but it is so much more fun with! :)

    BTW- the picture of Colette is absolutely adorable!

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  2. We will be celebrating St. Nicholas Day for the first time this year! We are making some pretty big changes to how we celebrate things this year, but everything was discussed between me, the husband, and oldest child (who is the only one old enough to realize anything is changing).

    First addressing the Santa issue - we still "do" Santa Claus, but we don't let the kids think he is real anymore. We broke the news to our oldest last year, after we realized she was totally all about Santa and the presents, and Jesus was totally an after thought. It wasn't working for our family (its hard for the kids too, because honestly our families are very generous to the kids during holidays, and it can be hard to combat that, and we weren't being diligent enough in earlier years unfortunately to really emphasize the faith over the presents).

    SO - what we are doing is this.
    St. Nicholas Day we will put out stockings (I have a thing with feet and shoes... I just can't put something that will be eaten inside a shoe that has been on actual feet. I just can't.) There will be coins, candy, an ornament, and tiny little toy item. We will read about St. Nicholas. I'm not sure if we will do anything else yet. Where my parents live, their church always has a St. Nicholas Mass for the kids, and its just so sweet, and I wish we had that here. Oh well. Next year we will be living up there so it will be a nice addition!

    On Christmas Eve, we will be going to a live nativity, followed by the Children's Mass. We will then go over to visit family for Christmas Eve yummies and just hanging out. We will also go driving and look at the Christmas lights on our way home. In the morning, the kids wake up to 3 gifts from "Santa" (we play the game as I mentioned, but the kids know its a game and not a jolly old man coming down a chimney for real). The gifts include 1 large thing they have asked for, 1 thing they need, and then 1 small thing that I thought they would enjoy having.

    I should just mak this comment into a blog post.... lol!

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  3. I don't get huffy people. There. l've said it. I understand having a differing opinion. But to get all huffy? Nope, don't understand it.

    …especially over Santa Clause? Really? Go spend your huffy-ness on something that matters; like abortion.

    /rant

    Anywho, we don't spend a lot of time "doing" or not "doing" Santa. We kinda down play the whole thing. My younger kiddos still believe in him I think. The four oldest know the truth. Their cousins' mother was one of those huffy types and made darn sure her kids knew what a fraud Santa was. So of course they passed that along to my older kids. We had a talk with them and they all took it well. Nobody freaked out. They know the correlation of the secular Santa with St. Nicholas. We used to have the CCC video on St. Nicholas and I think that helped make it not as much of a shock. But the number one reason I don't think my kids were affected by it was that we *talked with them*. Both my husband and myself were raised with santa as children. Neither on of us feels scared by having once believed in him. It's a cultural thing, you know? People need to calm down and just enjoy the season. Even the secular santa still represents generosity. At least that's what I see where we live.

    We have the same little statue of santa kneeling to the baby Jesus, too. I'm going to check out that book. Can you believe as much as I love Tomie de Paola that I haven't heard of that book?!

    Like we've done in the past, we will be celebrating St. Nicholas day tomorrow with chocolate in the slippers/shoes, books, cocoa and cookies.

    Ho!Ho!Ho! :)

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  4. I think as long as the focus remains on the birth of Jesus, having Santa as a secondary part of Christmas isn't too big of a deal, but you're right. The focus shouldn't be on gifts, either. Loved the picture of Colette!

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  5. Great post! We still "do" Santa and we "do" St. Nicholas tomorrow too, all the while doing our best to focus on Christ and the love he wants us to share with others. I really like the book by Paul Prokop called The True Story of Santa Claus. It's published by Pauline Books and Media and it skillfully weaves the true meaning of Christmas into the story of a saint who became Santa Claus. We read it every year and I figure it will help me talk to the youngers about it whenever they are "ready" to sort it all out:) Happy Feast of this jolly and loving Saint!

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  6. Wow! People really have a lot to say on this subject!

    We also "do" Santa! As I was reading your post, I was thinking to myself, "I should tell her about that cool picture of Santa with the Baby Jesus" and then I scroll down and see that you have the statue!
    :-)
    I LOVE that statue/picture. I think it helps children put it into perspective.

    As long as the emphasis is on Jesus, I think Santa is fine. I just tell the kids that Santa is Jesus's helper, but that it's Jesus's birthday, not ours. We just finished writing our letters to Jesus yesterday, in fact, telling Him what we will do for Him this advent.

    Ok, I'm exhausted so I'm going to try to catch a nap. Good post!

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  7. Ditto ditto on everything said. Nothing wrong with Santa as long as that is not the main focus.

    I also think that is a great picture.

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  8. I think the huffiness comes from both sides though. Not just the anti-Santa people.

    I don't know, I remember learning that Santa wasn't real, and I wasn't horribly upset over it. My friend's brother told me, and then I asked my mom. So that's not my reason for not doing Santa with my kids. I just don't see the point. Kids will love Christmas either way honestly.

    I think it's fine to know it's a story of a real man, but I just can't lie to my child and tell her he's really coming down the chimney. But this is my opinion. I don't hate on people who do do Santa, just as I would want them to respect my choice not to. :)

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  9. Allison--Thank you for your honesty. Yes, I suppose, there is huffiness on both sides, I'm not huffy though, and I'm on the Santa side. I think parents get huffy on issues like nursing/not nursing, immunizations/not immunizing, circumcising/not circumcising....santa/no santa...etc...I just think it's personal choice, and we all want is best for our own children.

    (we don't even talk about the chimmney...he's ST Nick, he can come and go as he pleases I guess! haha! I guess we don't get into the details that much)

    You are right, children will love Christmas either way, so, I look at it differently, I look at it as "Why not?" it was a good, happy experience for me, (my best Christmas ever) so that's why I want to pass that happiness and excitement, that waiting and hope with something tangible in the end.
    Santa is not a lie to me, he's real, he lives in Heaven and is St Nicholas. He may not physically be the one giving the gift, but his spirit is, through me and how I portray him.

    The funny thing is we never even talked about sitting on Santa's lap, or even about Santa yet this year, and Colette has never even been on his lap, yet, she knew. She just knew and the excitement and happiness, and especially the innocence, I just couldn't say no to. And it shows in the picture.

    Thanks again for your honesty, I appreciate it and respect your opinion, you are a super mom!

    Kelli--I can't get to your blog?!! I really like your idea of 3 gifts, like the wise men....

    Christine--does the 3 gifts too, because of the wise men. We don't, too much going on, I think it would get lost in the everything that's going on...I would like to do that when the kiddos are older though.


    Becky--hope you got your nap!! :)

    Tiffany--We have that book too, love it, we also got a couple new ones that Jessica suggested last year, can't wait to sit down and read those tomorrow.

    Kelly--Get the book, you'll love it!! We used to watch that video too, but our tape player part of our DVD player doesn't work--it eats the tapes...so we are getting rid of all our videos and tapes!!

    Kari--thanks for sharing your traditions with us too.

    Thanks Shelly--I agree!!

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  10. Hi Jamie, yes the controversy is alive and well regarding St. Nicholas and Santa Claus. I personally believe that it's a parental decision on how to discuss it with their kids which is why, I was very careful with my first grade R.E. kids this past weekend. One of the children said boldly, "Oh, I know all about it." And she comes from a very devout Catholic family so I interpreted that to mean, she understood who Santa really is. So, I told the kids the history of St. Nicholas and read them some stories and that his look has changed over the years. Which was evident in the book. I let it drop there because I wasn't about to get into a discussion with 6 year-olds and risk offending their parents.

    I gave each parent St. Nicholas chocolate gold coins out of view of their children. I thought they were so cute and if they chose to use them they could or they could hang on to them for stocking stuffers.

    My son found out late and it was by a substitute music teacher and I was very upset. He understood that St. Nicholas is a saint who loved children so much, that God gave him the special job of bringing gifts to all children. He believed that St. Nicholas, a.k.a. Santa Claus was doing the work of God by bringing presents. We've never gone over board at Christmas, our son would get a few gifts and that was it. My son knew we were really celebrating Jesus' birthday.

    Interesting discussion here...

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  11. The image of you and your mother....Jamie, you are such a beautiful person!

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  12. I LOVE that picture of your daughter on St. Nick's lap! You should seriously submit that to Hallmark or something! It looks so classic and beautiful...

    I agree that the controversy can turn into a moral debate when there's no need. Just like how we school, diaper, feed, immunize, etc. like you said. Nothing burns me up more! It's all up to each family.

    I respect families that don't do santa and I've always been intrigued by that. We do santa but we downplay it. My oldest already understands the whole thing. My husband explained it to him once he started asking questions about how santa gets into our house and we didn't want to lie to him. He was only about 6 when he learned the truth, and my husband and him had a beautiful bonding experience over it. Like you, Jamie, my son was blown away that we would give him gifts on top of what we'd already gotten him.

    I think it can be a really beautiful expression of love, if done well.

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  13. I think you have a good approach to Santa. Not the coming down the chimney etc, but that he is based on a Saint. If I were to do it, that's the way I would. I will tell Annamarie about Santa and how he's based on a Saint, I think that's the important part.

    And you are right, people get huffy about everything relating to parenting, starting with how you give birth and on.

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  14. Thanks for this post Jamie. I've enjoyed reading the comments as well. Very enlightening and glad to read all the different opinions and ideas.

    We 'do' Santa here, but this is the first year that I started to question whether we did the right thing. I debated about telling the big kids this year and then with our younger two not even starting the whole Santa thing. Not sure what my main reason was, but more of it being that the last two years the name Santa and 'I want from Santa...' keeps getting overused at our house that it is driving me nuts.

    Trying hard to get back into the reason for the season and the small (and big) reminders that the kids need. Another tough parenting decision. I'm still weighing it all out. We talk a lot about St. Nick and celebrate him tomorrow. Sure would like if we could keep cented on him rather than the materialistic version of Santa.

    Again, thanks for the food for thought in this post. Also, *love* the photo of Colette. So precious.

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  15. Noreen--what a great R.E. teacher you are!!! Those children are so very blessed to have you! That's too bad with your son, how he found out...that would be hard.

    Sarah--we waited with both the oldest til after the holiday, to let them experience it one more time, to experience that innocence one more time, then, I think it's also fun for the oldest to experience being in on the secret. If you can, wait for Jonah...hold on to that beautiful innocence....I love how my oldest never even questioned anything, how it happens, nothing....we had to put those questions into his head, like..."Jedi, how do you think Santa gets to every house in the whole world...and what about poor countries and poor children...?" With Ballerina Rosie, she started saying things like "I think it's really God, not St Nicholas...I think God just does it all" OK, time to tell you how it all happens. My kids felt so special when they were each told separately, different years.
    I actually think my parents really focused more on Santa and not the real reason and more on the gifts, we always got a ton from Santa and not much from them...that's one thing we changed when we started having kiddos, by doing only one thing from Santa (and stocking stuff) it's not the focus. It's an extra.

    Second Chances--I love what you wrote about your son, that's what I'm talking about, that would be missed if totally skipped, but it does depend on how it's all done and if it's done right and if it works for each particular family.

    Allison--Thanks again for your honesty. When I had my first, I only did St Nicholas and only called him that, but felt as long as they knew the true meaning of Santa and how it all started, then the rest would be fine. The kids actually think the Santa's all over the place (stores and malls) are helpers.

    Colette said "mama, I know how to tell if Santa is real or not." I said "how?" she said "If he has a beard, he's real" Tom then, said, "I have a beard, am I santa?"

    She thought that was so funny!

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  16. As has been said the key is focus and as long as we don't forget the real reason why not have some enjoyment too. Hope you and your sweet family are having a wonderful week.
    Hugs,
    Odie

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  17. There are only a few precious years of life when we are capable of such wonder and awe. It seems cruel to deny the children the experiences that bring this out and frankly, I think we adults benefit from seeing the sparkle in their eyes and the fullness of their trusting hearts.

    We do read "The Real Santa Claus" book and make sure they know about the very real saint and the miracle attributed to him. As for his visits to our home, the kids realize somewhere along the way that this is a pretend game we play, but it doesn't make it any less fun! Couple that with the opportunity to teach the little siblings and the older ones have more fun than ever.

    Last night while I was resting on the sofa I overheard my eldest girl helping her 4yo sister write her letter to St. Nicholas. It was about the most precious thing I have ever heard in my mothering life. No one asked her to do this, the older ones took the initiative to "be in on the secret" and get their letters and shoes ready and while everyone had fun this morning finding their goodies, the sparkle in the 4yo's eyes was the best gift of all - to everyone!

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  18. I remember finding out about "santa" when I was little. I walked in on my mom while she was wrapping the gifts. The gifts that were supposed to be from santa. I don't remember crying or being upset. I do remember my mom's face (I think this should be a post :-))...anyway, her face! WOW, she looked shocked. Then as the naughty little kid that I was. I ran and told the younger siblings. Ha. I got a scolding for that one.

    As a parent, and a Catholic parent at that, Santa, as in the gift bearer of toys, isn't much of a focus. St. Nicholas, oh yea! He's big and beautiful and in Heaven.

    Our first child had much more of santa, though. But as we grew in faith he got smaller. We still had a little gift from 'santa' in their stocking. We put them out on the eve of St. Nick. As the kids got older they just seemed to find out that the little gift in their stocking really came from us. So far, the 3 that know seem just fine with it. In fact our eldest once said she enjoys the baking of the cookies for her Papa Santa much more than for the 'other guy'.

    With St. Nicholas feast day just passing, the youngest said to her brother that St. Nicholas came to bring them a chocolate coin. She made no mention of Santa for Christmas. So I guess she's joined the pack.

    I agree with Kelly. There just isn't any room for huffiness. I'd rather make room for pies and the joy of the season.

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