Advent Church: Celebrating St. Nicholas
On December 6th when my anxious nature woke me early, demanding I scrub the bathroom, order my nieces and nephews their presents from Amazon, and address my Christmas cards, I rebelled. Instead, I let my kids dress themselves in sweats, put some coffee in the pot, and opened the front door to a few friends and their kids.
It was St. Nicholas Day. And we were going to celebrate the real Santa Claus.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t throw an actual party. There were no cute dishes. I didn’t send an invitation. My husband was out of town, and my house was anything but tidy. My craft-challenged self failed to make any adorable marshmallow snowmen snacks from Pinterest. And still, it was the most beautiful way I have practiced Advent this season—in community, with simplicity.
A friend brought Santa cookies. I turned on the Christmas tree lights and played our favorite Christmas songs. I gathered the six kids in our living room, read aloud our one trusty book about St. Nicholas, and let the kids dress from the dress-up bin (can you say knight, ninja, and Wild Kratts brother?). We then acted out the story of the saint who secretly gave gifts to those in need because he understood the power of God’s gift of Jesus in his own life.
Following the saint’s example, our friends arrived with boxes full of canned food and trash bags stuffed with clothes and toys to donate. This was a day for our kids to choose what they wanted to give away, to join us at the grocery store and help pick out the cans of food that another family would eat.
For our family, St. Nicholas Day has become an invitation in the middle of the chaos of December—a season that each year seems to grow fatter and fatter with excess and indulgence—to embrace the mysterious gifts of Advent, to prepare our hearts, to practice generosity.
I long for my children to have meaningful rituals in their lives. I long for them to know that Christmas gift-giving is not simply about their own wants and desires and that Santa Claus is not just a jolly man with every toy in the world at his disposal. I want them to believe that Santa is St. Nicholas, a man who loved Christ, who gave sacrificially, who celebrated the gift of Jesus.
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I’d love for you to click over to The High Calling today to read the rest. This is part of their ongoing series on “Advent Church,” what it means to practice Advent as a community.