This morning we celebrated Sinterklaas (a day early) with the kids — which is the Dutch equivalent of Christmas, except that it’s about Sinterklaas and not Jesus. When Madeline was a baby I was adamant that she would never believe in Santa Claus and that that should never be a part of Christmas. But somewhere along the way my opinion has changed.
We don’t do gifts from “Santa” and we don’t make a show about Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve, but when they talk about Santa, we don’t shut them down. In fact, I’m not sure the little kids don’t believe in him. Luke, for example, wrote on a piece of paper the other day: “Santa, I baleve in you” in response to a viewing of Charlie Brown Christmas. Like I said, we don’t encourage it, but we don’t squelch it, either.
So, when the kids got up just after 7am this morning, when we had our alarm set for 7:30, they all came and snuggled in our bed and I asked them to tell the story of St. Nicholas. They know this from the Veggie Tales movie about him. Luke said a few things. Then Madeline. Then I said, “St. Nicholas was a man who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. He looked kind of like a fox, and his best friend was an overweight bear.” This, of course, was followed by Madeline saying, “Mo-om!” which she says every time I say something outlandish.
As we laid there I did distinguish between Disney’s 1973 version of Robin Hood and Saint Nicholas, and I gave them a little sermonette (in my barely conscious state) about giving. About when Jesus was born a lot of people had to give of themselves and risk all sorts of trouble in order for him to even be born. About how Jesus showed us what God’s good kingdom is supposed to be like, and that he said that we must be like little children in order to be a part of his kingdom. And, borrowing from my New Testament professor, I said, being like children means that we are vulnerable, that we need others, that we can’t survive on our own. And that’s why we give gifts on days like this, and why all year we need to give to others and receive what they have to give.
Or something like that, anyway.
And it was a nice morning. They’ve been playing with their few toys and eating breakfast for last hour. And this was our kids just after 7:30 this morning after they opened their gifts around the Christmas tree:
(No family picture is complete without Luke making this face.)
Happy holidays to everyone this month. And may we all experience the joy of giving and receiving as the vulnerable people we are, remembering the hope we have of true love and generosity.