This is a guest post by Beloved hubby:
Today, December 6, 2014 marks the celebration of the Feast of Saint Nicholas. In many ways, the popular culture of today seems to indicate that the legend of this gift-bearing, real-life person represents the true nature of Christmas, or alternatively a direct competition between our Savior Jesus Christ and the barely recognizable corruption of Saint Nicholas. Nothing could be further from the truth. Please join me on this journey through time as we peel back the layers and discover the real meaning of Santa Claus, and why I believe he not only is real, but is also a tool used by Heavenly Father to work “miracles” here on Earth.
Who Was Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas was born March 15, 270, the only son of wealthy parents who died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Inheriting all that they had would seem to have made him wealthy. However, their death merely set the stage for his obtaining true lasting wealth. After his parent’s death he was taken in and raised by his uncle, also named Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Patara. The young boy was a quick study who soon started to faithfully observe the Canonical Fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays. Upon entering adulthood, his uncle ordained him to be a priest.
Nicholas was able to advance within the Church and soon became the Bishop of Myra. Here his reputation as a devout believer in Christ continued to blossom as his fame spread beyond Myra and the land of his birth. In the year 325, Constantine the Great called for a council to formally establish the Canons of his newly found religion. Bishop Nicholas was called to this great Council, which ultimately led to the development of the Christian Bible we use to this day, as one of the eminent religious scholars. Clearly, Nicholas not only believed in Jesus, but was also noted for his devotion to Christianity. Due to his great wealth, he was able to help others out, often anonymously, but this gift-giving was never his main purpose in life – which was studying the life of, developing a testimony in, and knowing Jesus. He continued this life-long pursuit until he died on December 6, 343 at what was then the very old age of 73.
Some interesting statistics regarding Saint Nicholas: According to Melsen’s census 2,137 churches were dedicated to Saint Nicholas in France, Germany and the Low Countries alone prior to the year 1500. Saint George is the Patron Saint of England, but a survey of that country reveals that there were only 204 churches dedicated to Saint George in Great Britain compared to the 446 dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The first Christian Church in the New World was built by the Vikings when they settled Greenland, and was dedicated to Saint Nicholas. On Columbus’ first visit to the new world, he dedicated the Haitian bay he found refuge in after Saint Nicholas. Given that widespread support for Saint Nicholas as a mighty servant of Jesus Christ, where is there even the slightest hint for what is today being billed as Santa Claus’ hijacking of Christmas?
Who Is Santa Claus
In the early 1800s New York was fondly remembering its founding not as New York, but as the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Part of this celebration, reaching into their past they pulled out Sinter Clause, the American corruption of the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas. He was first broadly mentioned in Washington Irving’s Knickerbocker’s History of New York. This version of Saint Nicholas was more closely related to a heavy-set Dutch Burgher as opposed to the thin Bishop. Other details quickly followed including Santa’s being propelled by a team of reindeer pulling along his sleigh filled with presents for the good boys and girls he was going to visit. However, these visits were not universal at that time. Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, Calvinists, and many more Protestants did not believe that Christmas was a day of any special religious significance. This started to change with the publication of Clement Moore’s epic poem in 1824. Gradually, Christmas found its way as the central feast of the Protestant calendar, a time many today hold as the holiest day of the year. It may be the second holiest, but to any true Christian, Easter, not Christmas, is the most important religious day of the year.
At any rate, Santa Claus as he was defined in America became an essential part of the Christmas (Mass of Christ) holiday as a way for sharing the happy family time this season brings. But, even here, with Santa Claus being developed by a secular group, around what was then a non-important day on the religious calendar I still see no essential conflict between Jesus and Santa Claus. For does our religion not teach us that Heavenly Father through his son Jesus Christ will bless us if we keep his commandments? How is this different than Santa Claus using powers he has been given (I believe he works for Heavenly Father) to reward those who are nice?
My Personal History with Santa Claus
I have now known and believed in Santa Claus for six full decades. During that time I have observed his work as an eager child, a loving father, and even more recently the community at large. During that time, I have never seen any actions by Santa Claus that would lead one to believe that he was trying to upstage the Savior, work at cross purposes with him, or do anything else that I believe to be contrary to the Gospel’s plan of happiness. Perhaps it has been my up close and personal observations that have given me an opportunity to know the Jolly Old Soul so well. Let me share just a few of these observations with you:
- Children from the age of 3 until they are about 8 have a thorough testimony of Santa’s powers. The ones I have discussed the situation with believe that he has been given these powers by Heavenly Father, and like any other gift from God, are only valid when one is trying to share those powers with somebody else. Perhaps some of those reading this blog entry would like to try this aspect of his powers out. Choose somebody who truly needs help, try to gain an insight into what they need, and then give freely of your resources to meet these needs. I promise you that you too, will be able to feel the power of Santa Claus as you are meeting these challenges.
- Because of their absolute testimony in the power of Santa, children will share secrets with him that they are afraid to disclose to anybody else. One time I was able to observe firsthand how a young preschooler told Santa that her mother’s boyfriend was touching her where he should not have done so. She could not share this secret with anybody else, but once she told Santa, the authorities were notified, and her mother’s boyfriend was not around to ever touch her again.
- My observations show that Santa will never rush a child off of his knee. Those kids have waited all year for what may be one of the 4 or 5 times in their lives to experience the magic of sitting on his knee. Some may be done in 10 seconds, others may need a few minutes. A rule of thumb is that you can count on about 45 seconds per child counting picture time, telling Santa what they want, and getting a personal message from him about how special a child they really are. Please be patient when the line is not moving as fast as you would like. At one event Santa was asked by the event’s organizer to move things along, at which time he reminded her of his firm rule about never rushing a child’s experience. Two children later there was a 3-year-old sitting on his lap with a burden on her mind that would crush most adults. A couple of months back her mother had told her about all the work necessary in getting ready for her new baby brother or sister to join the family. Like almost any 3-year-old, she really wanted to take advantage of a warm day and go out and play with her mother. Mommy insisted that they stay inside and get ready for the baby. The little girl then wished that the baby would never come. Obviously she did not mean to kill her baby sibling, but when Mommy miscarried she was sure that her wish had come true. She could not share this with Mommy or Daddy since it was her wish that had killed the baby, and there was nobody she could talk to. While she was on Santa’s lap she asked him if he could talk to Heavenly Father about giving her body to the baby. That way her parents would not be sad due to her killing the baby, and she could give up her life to pay Heavenly Father back for her wish that came true. Can you imagine the burden that little girl was carrying about with her day and night. If this had continued due to Santa rushing her off of his lap, that sweet soul would have been permanently scarred for life. Fortunately, Santa was there to practice his “magic” and the little girl’s burden was lifted by her Mommy knowing about the case and being able to talk things over with her.
- It is amazing how young some kids start to bully other kids. From my observations with Santa I know that it was relatively rare for even all of one school’s Pre-School, Kindergarten, and First Grade to be free from having such bullying. Usually it was some boy or girl that was either the youngest in the class, or very small for their age, that was being bullied. Let’s say the small kid’s name was Billy and the larger kid’s name was Tommy. While Billy was on Santa’s lap he would tell Santa he wanted nothing for Christmas. This not being Santa’s first trip around the tree, would raise his early warning radar that something was going wrong for Billy. After getting comfortable that he was talking with “the real SANTA”, Billy would tell him something about getting beat up, pantsed, or teased in front of other children with Tommy warning him that if he ever told anybody else about them, Billy would “get beat up real bad”. Being small, Billy does not dare tell his parents, the teacher, the principal, his friends, or even church leaders about the ongoing hell he is being forced through. Funny thing is that Billy knows, perhaps through the whispering of the Holy Ghost, that Santa can and will help him. The teacher and principal are notified, and when Santa checks back in a few weeks later, Billy is no longer being bullied, and it is now Tommy who has reason to fear about his making any more threats.
- Another all too common situation for Santa to hear about is a family’s economic troubles. Remember that early warning about not wanting anything for Christmas. Sometimes the child’s parents are out of work. Due to pride and not wanting to be embarrassed, the parents forbid the child from letting anybody know that Daddy is not working. If you look it up, economic troubles are the number 1 cause of divorce in America, and a prolonged time out of work is frequently the first stumble going down this increasingly one-way road. Fortunately, the children believe that Santa has special powers from Heavenly Father and that he can help make things right by giving the Dad a job for Christmas. While I have never actually seen Santa do this, I have seen him dozens of times notify others about the family’s issues, and by starting this socialization, helping the father get employment in most of the cases. Just because it does not happen with a snap of the fingers does not mean that it did not happen because of powers Heavenly Father has generously given to Santa for just such a situation.
- For the past 35 years, and during my personal time on his lap, I have never seen a child get off of Santa’s lap without their being told that he loves them. But that is only the starting point. Santa then asks the child if they know why he loves them. Usually the kid comes back and tells him it is because he is Santa Claus. Santa explains that talks about him, but not about them. He then makes sure that each child knows they are loved because they are special. If the event is secular, then that is where Santa usually stops. But if it is in a church group he is free to then tell them that Heavenly Father made them to be special, and that he wants them to know he has big plans in store for them and encourages them to talk to their parents. It is truly heartwarming to see a 3 or 4-year-old running from Santa to his parents yelling that Santa says they are special and that Heavenly Father has BIG PLANS FOR THEM.
- Santa does not always work with children. One of the groups he especially loves visiting are those who have a developmental disability. Sometimes these special people have simply had a stroke and with the exception of this problem they are fully functioning adults who have trouble communicating with others. The smile they get upon finding that Santa is talking to them, and not about them is worth all the land up at the North Pole. Others have only the mental capacity of a very young child, but even they know that Santa is special and feel thrilled when he tells them they are loved and valued. These visits are some of Santa’s hardest ones to perform, not because of the audience’s disabilities, but because there is so much he would like to do for them if he only had the resources. Perhaps this is an area where you could join with Santa in helping out this wonderful people.
- The final group that I have seen Santa visit is the aged. The most touching experience I ever witnessed with this group came when he visited a woman in her high nineties who was on death’s doorstep. She could no longer talk and was virtually blind, so Santa took the opportunity of letting her run her fingers through his beard. The smile that came on her face could have lit up a city if we only knew how to capture that type of energy. You could see how her mind was going back well over 90 years to when she was a little girl sitting on Santa’s knee. This smile was followed by tears of joy, after which time Santa took his leave and went on to the next room. Happily, when he checked back a few days later, she was reunited with her Heavenly Father and was no longer trapped inside of a body that had ceased working. When I have asked him about it, Santa frequently wonders if that event was the last time she was able to reflect on her youth prior to leaving this veil of wrath and tears.
Well folks, that represents over 60 years of experience with Santa. As noted, I can easily and honestly testify to any court, Heavenly or temporal, that I have personally observed Santa performing what a casual on-looker might call magic. Santa knows that he does not have any powers in and of himself. Rather, he is constantly given powers by Heavenly Father, and inspiration by the Holy Ghost to help some of Heavenly Father’s children here upon the earth. One other personal miracle that I have observed is that Santa does not ever experience any aches or pains from his arthritis while going about his duties. Yes Virginia, Mary, etc. there is a real and true Santa Claus.
I have personally observed him on numerous occasions performing miracles. Not once during this entire time have I ever seen him do anything that he would not do if Heavenly Father himself were in the room and totally focused on Santa (to the best of my knowledge he might just be doing that). Santa trying to hijack Christmas away from Jesus? Bah, Humbug!