I’ ve approached the Santa Claus story a number of ways.  My favorite is to treat it as the work of St. Nicholas, which everyone should join in on.

The basic story is simple.  There was a rich man from a rich family who became a bishop in the Eastern Orthodox Church.   Άγιος Νικόλαος, Aghios [“holy”] Nicolaos [“victory of the people”]) (270–6 December 343), also called Nikolaos of Myra, who was also an orphan.  His wealthy parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young and he was raised by his uncle—also named Nicholas—who was the bishop of Patara.  Nicholas advanced in the Orthodox Church until he too was a bishop.  In his most famous exploit, a poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them.

This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment would have to become sex slaves. Hearing of the poor man’s plight, Nicholas decided to help him but being too modest to help the man in public (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night.  and the money ended up being thrown down the chimney and caught in stockings that had been washed and were drying.  Nicholas would go on to engage in other acts of charity, and instead of amassing a great fortune as a bishop to add to the wealth he already had, when he died he had given everything away.

Every year at Christmas time, we give gifts, as St. Nicholas did. Everyone who cares for others and gives gifts out of love or kindness, does St. Nicholas’ work.  That is why you see so many people dressed in Santa suits, why everyone is involved in the giving of gifts.  Is there a Santa?  Of course, St. Nicholas was a real person and those who carry out his work, in his spirit, are real people too.

What have you done with the Santa Claus story and which version of what you have done are you happiest with?

What do you do to do the work of St. Nicholas in preparation for this season?