Sunday, December 11, 2011

Celebrating the Real St. Nicholas

Some years ago I read about Mike Sherer, a Lutheran minister, who with his wife Kathe, a registered nurse, decided to celebrate Christmas without Santa Claus when their first child was three years old. They had come to see Santa as little more than a prop for the great North American Christmas Marketing Machine, and so decided to focus instead on his venerable ancestor, the real life St. Nicholas.

This third century bishop of Myra, who lived on the southern coast of what is now Turkey, became legendary for his generosity in helping the poor and needy in his parish, according to stories about him passed down through the generations.

Because this real saint seemed to be a good alternative to the jolly old elf of recent invention, the Sherers have begun celebrating the Feast Day of St. Nicholas, which is on December 6, as an early part of their family’s Advent, and each year designate 5% of their December income to give anonymous help to a needy individual or family in their community, in the spirit of the good bishop of Myra.

They do put up a tree, but cover the floor all around it with good books about Christmas instead of the many other gifts for themselves that used to accumulate there. The books they then put away each year with the tree decorations, to give them a rest and to make them “new” each Advent.

The Sherers report that their giving up a fake Santa for a real saint they feel embodies the true spirit of Christmas has been a richly satisfying change, one they would recommend to everyone

The above is adapted from one of my 90-second radio spots aired on the following stations: 
WEMC 91.7 FM 11:58 am (M-F) Sun 7:58
WBTX 1470 AM 9:20 am 4:20 pm (M-F)
WNLR 1150 AM 11:28 am (M,W,F)
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