Here’s some thoughts that are swirling in my brain, prompted by a comment on Facebook by my cousin Kathryn who said that she hates when people speak ill of Santa Claus. Instead we should call him St. Nicholas because he is a saint.

I have to agree with Kathryn, but also sheepishly admit that I have been known to bash today’s version of Santa. Why? Oh lots of reasons, the materialism he represents, presents are given based on if you are “good” or “bad”, how Santa seems to dominate the whole Christmas season, the list goes on and on…but..

Santa has one redeeming quality for me: He’s based on the real person of St. Nicholas. Nicholas was a man who loved Jesus dearly. He took Jesus’ words seriously about selling your possessions and giving to the poor. He loved children. His compassion and generosity is definitely something to be encouraged by and celebrate. (You can read more about him here.)

Have we lost touch with jolly old St. Nick? He used to have his own day (December 6th) which was separate from the day for the Christ Child. Now they are celebrated together and I think it has done a disservice to both. I think we’ve morphed St. Nicholas into a disciplinary tool to try to get our kids to obey us. I don’t like it. It’s probably the real reason I don’t like the Elf on the Shelf either.

I hope that you understand my heart here. I don’t actually hate Santa or the Elf. I just love St. Nicholas more. Santa and the Elf can’t compete with the real person of St. Nick, and with them we often miss the point. St. Nicholas is a person I can actually get behind and say “This man, while not perfect or mythical, loved Jesus and his love for Jesus caused him to be generous and compassionate. That’s something we should emulate.”