Thursday, December 13, 2012

The real Santa

Want to start a riot at the check-in desk of your church’s nursery? Simply ask those waiting to check in their darling cherubs, “Do you do Santa?”

You could ask about the ethics of birth control, whether or not you can lose your salvation or the origins of the earth and not get the passionate responses from people who absolutely do NOT “do” Santa because Santa is not real and takes away the true meaning of Christmas.

Which just goes to show you some people don’t know the real story of St. Nicholas of Myra, or Santa to us westerners. Of course, I didn’t either, until a professor in college enlightened me. And now, that professor, Dr. Wally Metts has written a book about St. Nicholas, telling his true story, well, as true as it can be.

Knowing the life of St. Nicholas makes celebrating his legacy that much more meaningful. He was a pastor who, from his own wealth, helped the poor and did so without fanfare or wishing to be repaid. Those he helped told stories of his generosity. And 1,600 years later, the recollections have given us our modern-day Santa Claus.

Of course, like a game of Telephone, the truth gets lost a bit in the telling. They got the giving part right. It’s just that the focus seemed to stay on the now mythical creature who flies around giving presents to good girls and boys instead of the faithful pastor who gave because God gave first.

St. Nicholas’ unofficial biography will now be required December reading for our family. I encourage you to give it a read as well. You’ll never see Santa the same again. And that’s a good thing.

And you'll be able to tell those who say there's no Santa that there most certainly was. Minus the flying reindeer, of course.