St. Nicholas Day At the Moore’s

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So, Santa doesn’t visit the Moore family, but we’re no Scrooges!  We
love the whimsy of the holidays as much as the next family. We just
want to be incredibly thoughtful about how we steward our children’s
imaginations and the messages we communicate  when we give at
Christmastime. This is why we celebrate St. Nicholas Day, a
traditional Advent feast day on Dec. 6th that honors St. Nicholas, the
Bishop of Myra.

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Here’s a little bit about his story:

St. Nicolas was the Bishop during the fourth century, who lost his
parents when he was young, leaving him orphaned, but with a large
inheritance.  Instead of spending it all on himself, he used his
money to help the poor, especially children.

One story my kids love about St. Nicholas is how he gave to a
family in need in the middle of the night. When he found a
father in his community lost his job and ability to provide a
dowry for his daughters to ensure their future, St. Nicholas decided
to do something about it. He put some of his own coins in bags
and while they family slept, he tossed the bags in their windows, saving the girls future and preserving the father’s dignity. The customer of giving gifts on St. Nicholas Day originated in Europe as a way to commemorate the example of St. Nicholas and remind us to care for the poor.

I love turning our gift- giving energy towards celebrating a life that
reflects the generous heart of God. One account I read about St.
Nicholas that whenever someone thanked him he would point them back to God who is the giver of all good gifts. Saint Nicholas is a better
alternative to Claus because the star of the story is not a jolly
character or extravagant gifts or even goodwill- it’s Jesus.

This Sunday is St. Nicholas Day and we have three fun ways we
celebrate that tap into the fun of Santa Claus but point to Christ-like generosity.

1: We make a secret gift list

Santa is fun because he gives in secret, but so did Saint Nicholas and
this practice of giving quietly lines up with Scripture:

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Matthew 6:3

The Friday before St. Nicholas Day, we make a short list 3-5
people who we want to secretly give to on Sunday. My kids like to call
this “ninja gifting” because we get in and get out before they even know.
This could look like leaving cookies on our neighbor’s porch, or donating
to a friends’ cause anonymously, or paying for someone’s fast food
behind us.  We set our budget and go. This year we’re sticking to the
coin theme and leaving the exact change for washing and drying in four
of our complex’s machines with a little note. I’ll post pic of it to
Instagram.  We do a more elaborate version of gift-giving on Christmas
Day with our pancake delivery, but on the 6th, we keep in simple and
secret.

2: Trader Joe’s Coins

Trader Joe’s has these cute bags of chocolate coins that are perfect
for celebrating St. Nicholas Day.  What I do is I buy three bags and
when the kids aren’t paying attention,  I hide them in their shoes at some point of St. Nicholas Day. It’s a fun surprise for them. Plus, it’s chocolate.  What kids don’t love chocolate?

3: Dine on Oranges

Traditionally coins or oranges are given on Saint Nicholas Day, since
Trader Joe’s takes care of the coins for me, I usually come up with
something to cook or bake with oranges in it. In years past, when I
don’t have energy to do a single thing, I put a bowl of oranges on the
table for an after dinner snack. You can also, get orange chicken from
your favorite Chinese restaurant (or Trader Joe’s has a yummy, easy
alternative) for dinner that night. If you love to cook, maybe try out
a Duck l’orange, or some delicious baked good with oranges. Do you, Mama.  Do you.  We usually talk about St. Nicholas over our meal and challenge each other to be secret givers for the rest of the month. This is usually when we pull for sibling shopping assignments.

This is how we celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day in the Moore Family, but
there are so many other ways to celebrate:

Kristin Schell has some ideas on how to celebrate St. Nicholas in your
 neighborhoods and you should check out the St. Nicholas Center for craft
and recipe ideas.

Of course, if you still feel like Santa Claus is too important for your
family to give up, I understand- do you, Mama, do you, but may I
suggest you balance your traditions with truth? Think of a few ways
you could maybe scale back Santa to make room for gift-giving to the
poor or learning about examples of historically generous people.  Instead of getting the Santa pic this year, could you buy a gift for a foster kid and deliver it to the drop off box at the mall? Or what about calling a moratorium on Santa movies just for this year to make space for more Jesus stories?  Ask the Holy Spirit what makes sense for you and your family.  I’m cheering you on from Los Angeles, while drinking my cocoa, and filling ziplock baggies of coins.

Shalom and Trader Joe’s Runs,

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