It’s that time of year again. You can go to the shopping mall and listen to carols while you shop. You can even get your photo taken with Santa. Christmas can be a very difficult time of the year for single fathers or for children who can’t see their mothers or fathers. Mostly it’s the children who can’t see their dads who find it the hardest because of the innate bias in the system, but that is another story.
This week we are going to look at the best side of Christmas, because when it comes to family, in a fallen world there are always going to be disappointments. I grew up in a less-than-perfect family. I celebrated quite a few Christmastimes without my father. Perhaps that is part of my imperfection?
The reality is none of us as fathers are perfect, so it is pretty lame to expect the same of our children. The good news is that Christmas is all about the birth of the ‘perfect one’, and therefore a time for celebration like no other.
For me Christmas time is the best time of the year, because Christmas time is also all about family time. Christmas is about being together, giving presents and celebrating family on earth as well as in heaven.
Check this video out to get a unique view of Christmas time like no other.
Let me tell you about one of the legends of Christmas, Father Christmas, and how he got connected with the coming of Jesus, the Christ Child.
Father Christmas is also known as Santa Claus, but what does he have to do with Christ’s birth and the giving of presents? Let me explain.
Santa Claus is German for ‘Saint Nicholas’. Nicholas was a man born in the 3rd Century in Patara, a village in Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. So Nicholas knew how it felt to be fatherless.
Obeying Jesus’ words to, ‘sell what you own and give the money to the poor’, Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children and his concern for sailors and ships. Under the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals – murderers, thieves and robbers.
Many stories are associated with Saint Nicholas. One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value – a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry! This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery and often into prostitution by cruel slave owners.
Mysteriously, on three different occasions a bag of gold appeared in the poor man’s home, providing the needed dowry. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. This among many other stories can be found at www.stnicholascenter.org and established St Nicholas as the great giver of gifts and protector of children.
So there you have it, Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus and finally Father Christmas. In actual fact St Nicholas was an ambassador for the perfect one, the real ‘Reason for the Season’.
Have a great Christmas with your family. When Christmas Day comes (not long now), gather your children around you as you open your Christmas presents. Tell them who Santa Claus really was. Tell them the wonderful story of St Nicholas. Then remind them of the words of Jesus,
“It is more blessed to give than to receive”,
and have fun doing it. Remember Christmas Time is Family time.
Yours for a great Christmas,
PS. There is still time to hold your own Christmas Street Party. You only have to invite your neighbours. Trust me, the world will be a happier place if we all just reached out to one person this Christmas and offered some old-fashioned hospitality and good cheer. Our own Christmas Street Party went really well. We raised some money for Dads4Kids and the jumping castle put a smile on many children’s faces and the dads enjoyed it too. Most of all, we made many new friends.
Simple ideas often have great power. Just last night I had an unexpected phonecall from one of the guests to my Christmas Street Party. He rang me to say thank you for holding the Christmas Street party. I could tell he wanted to say a lot more, but many men are unable to say what they really want. That is why it is so important to listen when men do talk. His simple words touched my heart deeply and reminded me of the words of the perfect one,
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”