Monday, December 3, 2012

Baa Humbug, There is No Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse!!

Baa Humbug, There is No Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse!!

At this time of year comes every parent’s dilemma. Do you tell your child that Santa Claus is just a made up story or legend or do you tell them he is real? While at a Disney Park or Cruise do you tell them Mickey Mouse is just a person in a costume? Why is this decision important, or is it? I believe it is very important.
Our modern Santa Claus did not start out as a red suited fat man living in the North Pole with a group of magical little people and flying elves. Santa was a real living person by the name of Nicholas and he lived in a little city place called Myra. You can find documentation in the records of the Counsel of Nicaea around the year 325 AD that prove his existence.
Nicholas was the son of rich merchants who died when he was a young man. Nicholas was faithful believer in Christ. He went to church every day. He used money from his inheritance to help those in need and gave freely to the church. He became a priest and later was made a Bishop. As a Bishop he was called by the Roman Emperor Constantine I to the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. There he helped shape the Christian Faith into what we know it as today. When other Bishops wanted to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ Bishop Nicholas argued the point for four months. After four months a one of the other Bishops was determined to continue the agreement and would not be swayed. The other Bishop of divisive and at the end of four months of debate Bishop Nicholas physically fought with him to stop it and in the end the divinity of Christ was no longer argued. He was a defender of the faith.
It is important to know at least that he was real and that there is a reason for us still remembering him today. So what does St Nick have to do with Christmas? Legend goes he found out about a family with 3 daughters, the eldest of which had just reached the age to marry. At that time if a young lady could not get married she was doomed to become a prostitute or be a cleaning woman and live poor for the rest of her life. What a woman needed at that time to secure a marriage was a dowry. Her family would give the groom or his family money or goods to secure their life.
When Nicholas found out about the first daughter and the families prayers for a solution he had an idea. He snuck over to the house and dropped some gold coins into a window for the girl and they landed in her shoe! The family was so happy and excited! They could not believe the horror of what could have happened to their beloved daughter was now averted!
Soon came the time for the second daughter to find a husband. Still this family of modest means could not afford the dowry for this daughter either! They prayed and hoped for a miracle! If someone dropped money off this time the father wanted to know who did it. He closed the windows and barred the doors. Nicholas once again went to the house and quietly looking around found the fireplace was the only opening into the home. This time he dropped the gold coins down the chimney! They were found in the girls stocking that was hanging next to the fireplace to dry. When the family found the coins they were shock and once again praised God for the blessing and for saving their daughter!
When the third daughter came of age the father was beyond determined to find out who had been so kind to his family if it happened again. He set traps and watched for his daughter’s benefactor. This time he caught Nicholas as he came to leave gold coins for the last of the girls. Nicholas swore the father to secrecy and he agreed and kept quiet for years. Nicholas told the father he was not giving the gifts but it was a gift from God. He gave gifts at Christmas time both publicly and in secret to remind people of the gift God gave mankind with the birth of Christ. He wanted people to remember the love of God.
When Nicholas died the father decided to keep up the tradition of leaving secret gifts for people. He would give the gifts in Nicholas’ name. Years later he told others and they also started leaving gifts in Nicholas’ name. Today we still give gifts in his name.
There is much more to learn about Bishop Nicholas and his long transformation into Santa Claus. We don’t need to know all that information. All we need to know is he was real and still lives in the love of people that give today.
Again why is that so important? I believe it is important to have faith, to be able to believe in things you cannot see. When you are facing your darkest hour how can you believe there is a God that can and will see you through if you can’t have faith? You can’t see God but is like the wind you can see what the wind does and feel it as it blows across your face. You can see the results of prayers answered and feel His love when you need it. You can also feel His joy when you open your heart and follow His will and show kindness to others.
Santa and Mickey Mouse both help the young learn to have faith. They can also remind those of us that are ‘older’ yet are willing to be young at heart to be open and let go of what we know as accepted reality and believe in miracles. If you can stop and suspend, for even a moment disbelief, your knowledge of what is ‘real’ you can believe and have faith enriching your life. That man in the red suit at the mall, that tall Mouse walking around the Disney parks are real! Set the reality for a moment and be a child again willing to believe.

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