The person we have come to know as Santa Clause was, in fact, Nicholas, Bishop of Myra (c.342). Very little is known about his life, except that he was tortured and imprisoned by the Emperor Diocletian during a time of intense persecution against Christians. Nicholas may have been in attendance at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 (where the Nicene Creed originated).
St. Nicholas is the patron saint of seafarers and sailors, and most notably, of children. As a bearer of gifts to children, his name was brought to America by Dutch colonists in New York, from whom he is popularly known as Santa Clause.
As Christians, we are often heard reminding people that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, and that is true. It is also worth remembering that Nicholas of Myra, St. Nick, was a real person that suffered real persecution for his Christian faith. The idea of giving gifts on Christmas is linked to the giving of gifts to the baby Jesus by wise men.
As we give and receive gifts this Christmas, it is important to remember what has been given to us by the birth of Jesus. That event marks the time when heaven came down to earth. The pre-incarnate Word of God, literally and fully God, became flesh and lived as one of us (John 1:14). This was not a mistake or an after-thought, but the fulfillment of prophecy, and part of the divine plan to save all humankind from sin and everlasting death.
Jesus spent about 33 years on the earth, and only about 3-1/2 of those years were spent in ministry. In that short time, Jesus left us with a wealth of teaching. Through His teaching and example, we have the formula for successful and happy lives now, and an eternity with Him in heaven after our life ends. It is amazing how the simplest instructions can have such a lasting effect on our lives.
I have heard it said that we learned most of what we need to be successful in life when we were in Kindergarten: Eat all your vegetables, brush your teeth every day, take a nap every day, treat others as you want to be treated, don’t be rude, be kind and respectful, etc. I also like the advice from the movie, Bambi: “If you can’t say nothin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” It is not the material gifts we give this Christmas that matter as much as how we behave.
The best gifts we can give to one another, our community, and our world are kindness, caring, love, support, and unity. These gifts have no cost and pay great dividends. If we want to see our world improve, the change begins with us. The time is now. Merry Christmas
Blessings and Peace to you All,