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Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Feast of Saint Nicholas and the Generous Spirit of Christmas


December 6th is the feast of St. Nicholas. Having grown up in the Catholic church and later marrying a wonderful Christian man, I have been able to incorporate my childhood memories and traditions into my own phamily. Tonight my kids, even though they are now 24,21,18 and 16, will put their bowls out on the kitchen table and wait for St. Nick to fill them with simple treats. We always start with an orange. Although both of my parents were of Slovenian decent, the tradition of the orange started in Spain. There are various stories and theories to back this up but Nicholas gave gold to save three young women from being sold into slavery, thus the orange. You may also give  apples,clementines or tangerines. It is believed that Nicholas came from a very wealthy family, and when his parents died he used the wealth from his inheritance to give to the poor.  We add a candy cane. There are many symbols for the candy cane. In the case of St. Nicholas, is represents the staff that he carried and we always add one to the bowl. Now the gold coins. Ah...to give real gold coins! That would be a treat. But we give a small bag of gold coins that actually are good quality chocolate to represent the goodness of St. Nick as he used his wealth to ultimately help the poor. Next are socks, now my late mother would attest that as a child they hung their stockings for St. Nick but since we have no fireplace we use the bowls and we add a pair of warm socks for each one of our children. In Europe children often put a pair of shoes for him to fill with treats! Today we add other small items to our children's bowls. These items include lip gloss for the girls, lip balm for the boys and other treats like a small Christmas book or other small items.

When the kids were small they faithfully wrote their letters to Santa. Legend has it that when children wrote their letters to the Christ Child or Santa, Nicholas collected them and made sure they got to their destination.

There is the lump of coal. My mother said if you were naughty St. Nick would leave one of these for you. Today you can even buy "coal" gum for the naughty child!

You can use a small Santa doll or even read your child a book about St. Nick. These wonderful traditions really add to the meaning of Christmas.

In the Netherlands there are no holidays decorations until after the fifth of December. St. Nick is still a big hit there and they celebrate with these timeless traditions.

The story of Saint Nicholas will always be a treasure for me. He knew the true meaning of the holiday season, helping the poor and giving from the heart. Today I notice more and more that under privledged children are asking for simply necessities like warm clothing . I listen to the local c/w radio station 98.5 FM KYGO. They have a holiday tradition called Christmas Crusade for Kids. This pairs local law enforcements officers with children that truly need our help. They collect donations of new items and cash from those of us who are willing to help and deliver these items to needy kids . Lately all I am hearing on the radio are kids asking for warm clothing, a new pair of shoes etc. Rarely does a child ask for big ticket items like an XBox or other high tech gear. Last year some of my girlfriends and I adopted a phamily. It turned out that this phamily was a dear friend of mine, Lyn. Her three grand daughters live in a remote farming area in Northern Colorado with their dad Greg and his wife Sheila. His first wife, the mother of these girls, hit the drug scene and still is into it. It is very tragic because her phamily has money and live a very affluent lifestyle in Washington state. But they enable her habit, helping her out. Anyway, Greg got custody of the girls but he has been in and out of jobs due to the crummy economy and they live in a old drafty run down house.Last Christmas Lorna and Veronica my friends from the University Hospital Billing Office helped out along with several ladies they work with. Koko and Theresa from my office and myself donated and we collected so many things for these needy phamily. We bought those girls nearly everything on their wish lists and one gal donated gently used coats that her own kids outgrew. We filled my car with mittens and gloves and hats and other winter wear. We had gift certificates for the parents to complete their holiday dinner and also had little gifts for the folks too! It made me feel so good! But boy was it hard to give up those Barbie dolls! LOL!

Several years ago when my husband and I were in a similar situation someone, and to this day, I do not know who they are, turned our kids name into the Christmas Crusade for Kids. I was taken back by their generous gifts but I had had two back to back surgeries and only the hubby was working. My girlfriends from the UH Admissions Dept. pitched in and cooked dinners for us for two weeks while I was recuperating and Lorna and her dear parents collected tons of food and gifts for our kids. I was so overwhelmed, I felt like I could never give back like that! But some years God is very good to me and I donate as much as I can. Other years, like this one, I rely on the kindness of phamily and friends to help us thru a rough patch.

In closing I just want to say please do not forget those less fortunate then you. Go out and help someone in need. You will feel like a million dollars and your heart will feel warm & full from your generous act.

God Bless You All!


1 comment:

Dogmom Diva said...

Oooh I am the first to leave a comment on your post. I love the tradition of St. Nicholas. I have never heard that tradition from you. I would love to have done that with the boys when they were young. Maybe if we have grandkids we can start it with them.
I am so with you..We are pretty lean this year but we always try to help. My heart rests with the needy children and animals. So we try to do what we can.. The chiropractor office in Mt. Carroll had a Toys for Tots box in the waiting area for local kids, and I now in my sisters little town lots of needy folks, lots of poverty there..so Carl and I went to the local little drug store and picked up some toys..It felt good to think that those little toys might put a smile on a childs face Christmas morning. We were lucky with the boys growing up, we weren't rich by any means, but some years I truly went overboard and I regret that I did not use those resources for more charity..But whats done is done, and we do try now.
Ok let me check out the rest of your blog girlfriend. love you