We have been excited in our house for this day for awhile. This past year, Santa has been revamped in our house. And so, today, we celebrate the true St. Nicholas. There is a wealth of information at www.stnicholascenter.org , but quick summary would tell you that Saint Nicholas was orphaned during his teen years when his parents died. They left him wealthy, though. And one eve, he heard a girl crying. He asked her the issue, and she explained that she and her three sisters were all in love with men they wanted to marry, but they could not, because they were too poor, their father had no dowry money. So, Nicholas left, and that night, and the two subsequent nights, returned to their home, and tossed a bag of gold coins into the chimney of the girls' home. He did this in secret. The father did catch him the last night, but Nicholas asked him to just thank God for answering his prayers, and please to not tell anyone. That spring, he attended their weddings. :) He continued to help people, and everyone loved him. He set an example of how to live, and he was named a Saint. He loved Jesus. He was imprisoned for his faith. There is some who say he argued with Arius at the Council of Nicea, about whether there was a time when the Word didn't exist (Nicholas believed the Word always existed....you know, 'In the beginning was the Word" and all), and punched Arius for his heresy. I have heard that he apologized :). Anyway, the gift giving to those in need-- in secret, the devotion to the Lord, the passion for Christ, the kindness....THIS is a St. Nick worth celebrating on this December 6th, St. Nicholas Day. Why? I pulled these from the St. Nicholas Center site hyperlinked above, but here's why:
- To learn about the true Santa Claus and Father Christmas: St. Nicholas, a man of faith who lived his life in devotion to Christ
- To focus on giving more than receiving: St. Nicholas cared for the needy
- To emphasize small treats and family fun: St. Nicholas loved children
- To provide a bit of special festivity early in the waiting weeks of Advent: St. Nicholas points to Jesus, the heart of Christmas
- To offer a spiritual dimension to gift giving
- To tell the story of a Christian saint, whose model life inspires compassion and charity
- To honor St. Nicholas honors the Christ Child who selflessly gave the greatest gift of all—himself
So today, we awoke to chocolate gold coins in our boots....in sweet little red pouches that I thought necessary. :) The kids know the candy is from their daddy and I, but the excitement and fun still hangs in the air preceding, and at, and after, the discovery.
But before the kids rolled their bedheaded selves out of their bunks, their daddy came in and whispered, "Birdie has had two pups." What a fun day to add excitement and anticipation. Our sweet (but too hyper for me) old girl is working on delivering her (most likely to be) last litter of pups. She doesn't really like an audience (what's wrong with her?) but she is doing well so far. A boy and a girl, both look to be orange and white like their daddy, Tucker.
So while we wait in anticipation for the litter to be born today, we are about to have some blackberry muffins for breakfast, the boys are coloring pages about Saint Nicholas, we will read oodles of books and watch a movie or two today, the babes will be treated to lunch out, and we will pick up a dozen yummy cupcakes (thank goodness that Groupon extended its expiration date! Totally forgot about that sweet treat).
We will also give a gift in secret. I am most excited about this part! Is there someone you know who is in need? Or could use some encouragement? Or maybe a stranger will cross your path and you will be able to meet a need of theirs today. In the spirit of Christmas. The spirit of taking what we have, though it be little, and using it to meet a need, or be a blessing, to someone else. Maybe even sacrificing a bit. In this anticipated season...the season where we can "sing out for joy, for the brave little boy, who was God but he made himself nothing. Well he gave up his pride, and he came here to die like a man." Jesus. Who left heaven to come to earth. The begotten of God, our Rescuer. He brought the free gift of salvation-given to us out of his great mercy and sacrifice. Glory. Glory to the Newborn King. (quote is from Andrew Peterson's album, "Behold the Lamb of God," which you can listen to almost in its entirety for free here) . It is excellent for Advent, and for the entire year! :)
Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart. Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.