St. Nicholas Day comes and goes every December 6th with little notice. It is a shame that the Christmas season does not do more to honor the man who is the basis for Santa Claus.
Once upon a time St. Nicholas was one of the most famous and revered people in the world. He did not become that way because he wildly gave gifts or bestowed upon people their every desire.
Nicholas was far removed from the modern image of Santa, a character so abused by marketers and Hollywood he actually numbers as many enemies as friends. St. Nicholas was never a man who sought out the spotlight or wanted the attention.
What makes that such a sad statement is that so many want to “play” Santa — as if his attributes are merely temporary, at best. This is a byproduct of a manufactured myth. If one really wants to become Santa then the lessons from the life of St. Nicholas should be learned.
Lesson #1 from St. Nicholas is that it was never about him. It was about giving anonymously. What would Christmas be like if we really did that?
Lesson #2 from St. Nicholas is that both his giving and receive had their basis in religious conviction. In other words, his actions were a similitude of greater giving and gracious receiving of acknowledged heavenly gifts. Again, what would Christmas be like if we really looked at it that way?
Lesson #2 from St. Nicholas is that singling out the children, the poor, the down-trodden were his first priorities. Some get this right in their giving of Christmas, even these days. But few do it as St. Nicholas did it: quietly, anonymously, and without notice.
Nicholas is a legendary figure because he affected people for good. He was beloved by people he never met in places where he had never traveled.
Whether you put on a red suit — which is the last real visible connection to St. Nicholas of old — or whether you play Santa in your heart as you give your holiday gifts — if the focus is on the receiver first the magic we all know as Santa happens.
That is what makes St. Nicholas worthy of celebration.