On Sunday we started a new family tradition, what will be our annual St Nicholas Day party. The idea came from talks about what we were going to do about Santa Claus. We’ve got no beef with Santa, per say. But my experience, and that of many of my peers, was that the arrival of Old Saint Nick frequently overshadowed or was at least on par with the birth of the Christ child. Eternal salvation, yeah yeah. That’s great. But to a kid, a man sneaking into your house to leave lots of gifts? It’s a symbol that’s hard to resist.
We’ve talked to lots of other parents about this. Some just don’t take it to seriously. They don’t discourage or encourage Santa. Others let their child choose if that’s a tradition they want to have. Others go all out to keep the myth alive as long as possible.
Our strategy is to introduce Santa as St Nicholas, the bishop of Myra. We will have a big celebration of his life with lots of fun things, lots of stories and excitement. But we’ll help to refocus Santa not on getting to excess but on the saint who was known for aiding the poor and children. This year we had 15 kids and their families at our house. Everyone left their shoes at the door to find them filled with an orange, a prayer card, chocolate and a candy cane. We decorated cookies and each child made a miter that looked like on St Nicholas wore. We had several St Nicholas figures around our house to show them. I read a few stories to the children about the life of the saint. At the end everyone gathered for a short St Nicholas liturgy.
T-Bop loved the whole thing. She wrestled with a fellow one year old and some how got her hands on and downed a whole chocolate Santa. I also found her in a pile of cookie sprinkle, eating them one by one. Even though she has no idea what’s going on, it was nice to start this tradition with her this year. We got some good ideas and will know better what to do next year.
Below are some pictures of the big event. I posted a list of resources on Guppy.