St. Nicholas Day: Santa, Mystery and Small Family Ritual

St. Nicholas Day: Santa, Mystery and Small Family Ritual December 6, 2012

Friends, I’m going to ask you to jump over with me to another site again today. (This is just one of those lucky weeks for us!) Christine Gough has been hosting a guest series called: “Vision from the Frontlines: Voices, Experiences & Practices of Faith Development” and today, I’m  over there sharing about how our family celebrates St. Nicholas Day. This is as practical as I get, so be excited!



I talk about ritual a lot: Ritual and beauty. Grace. And how I want my kids to remember that we made their lives at home into a liturgy of sorts. When they’re grown, I long for them to say we made all of it beautiful.

I’m a writer. So I put that on paper. I say it to strangers. But when we’re in the middle of settling into our home, two months out from a cross-country move, the liturgy of our life together looks a lot more like frantic doing. And “No, I can’t play right now, baby. I have to blah blah blah blah.” (Blah includes: cleaning, organizing, buying Christmas presents, building shelves, finding a dresser on craigslist and on and on.) But that’s why we practice ritual in the first place, right? We set up our lives so that there is space in our dailyness for celebration and teaching and loving the least of these.

Last year I was given the chance to know a dear woman named Christine, a friend whose commitment to prayerful tradition in her home is awe-inspiring. After hearing her talk about how she practices ritual with her kids throughout the Advent and Christmas season, I felt totally overwhelmed. How could I follow her example? Where could begin? So I took one of her many beautiful ideas and shaped it to our family.

My oldest son is four and he’s completely obsessed with the idea of Santa. Now, I’m one of those Christians who likes Santa Claus. I think he’s fun. And mysterious. I think Christmas should always be fun and mysterious. But I still sometimes worry about is my son’s obsession with gifts. I worry that Santa will overshadow in his four-year-old spirit what’s most true of Christmas: the God who incarnated himself, who came to us and lived with us.

Enter St. Nicholas Day, which officially occurs on December 6, but which our little family celebrates on one of the Saturdays surrounding it, right in the middle of all the demands of holiday parties and gift buying and card sending. It’s a day we stop and make choices as a family to walk in St. Nicholas’ footsteps: to give, not of obligation or pity, but out of gratitude…


Read the rest over at Christine’s blog! (If you don’t mind?)

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