So sorry for the long pause between posts, friends. This whole working full time while being a single parent to three kids has been a bit time consuming! 😉 Moving on . . .
I’ve been mulling over how to handle this first Christmas *alone (as is no spouse – you know well that I am rarely if ever actually alone!) I went through DivorceCare’s “Surviving the Holidays,” and was encouraged to create new traditions and to resist the urge to stuff the holidays with activities to numb the pain. While at church I was reminded today that I am not just celebrating “the holidays.” I am celebrating the birth of Christ, Emmanuel. It’s not about presents, the tree, pretty ornaments or even spending time with loved ones. It is simply Jesus, and nothing more. It is that thought that fills me with joy and anticipation.
This Christmas will mark my third year of participating in Advent during the Christmas season. This will also be my third year to create a Jesse Tree with Jonah as a part of Advent. I love the genealogy of Christ and teaching Jonah about the impossibly imperfect people who fathered and mothered our Savior.
My goal is to actually do what I set out to do last year, blogging our Jesse Tree week by week. Stay tuned!
As for new traditions, one I am toying with is a new (but actually very old) take on Santa Claus – better known in other traditions and the early Christian church as St. Nicholas. Santa has received a pretty bad rap these past few years from people of faith. Instead of bashing this loveable cultural icon, I say let’s get down to his roots and see what Old Saint Nick was really about.
Just a few fun facts:
*Nicholas was born in the 3rd Century in a small village in what is now Turkey to a wealthy family.
*A devout follower of Christ, Nicholas devoted his life to serving the ‘least of these’ using his whole inheritance to do so.
*Nicholas was persecuted for his faith through imprisonment and exile by the Romans.
*Stories of Nicholas which formed our current traditions here in the U.S. revolve around his love and devotion to children and in giving gifts in secret to those without. See here to learn how St. Nicholas became known to us as Santa Claus.
*St. Nicholas Day is December 6th. On the eve of the 6th, where children share candies and small gifts and put out carrots and hay for St. Nicholas’ horses in exchange for gifts (placed in stockings or shoes). It is important to note that “Nicholas gave in secret, alert to others’ needs, and expecting nothing for himself in return. It is this selfless generosity which seeks only the good of the other that made Nicholas’ gifts the gifts of a saint.” (St. Nicholas Center).
St. Nicholas doesn’t replace Christ; he points to him. While teaching your kids about the real meaning of Christmas this year, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – give ole Saint Nick a chance!