Happy Saint Nicholas Day!
Every year I celebrate St. Nicholas Day - St. Nick was a real person - born in Turkey and in his later years, he became a bishop in the church. St. Nick loved kids - and it is said that he hired people to make wooden toys, warm clothes and gingerbread treats that he'd go and hand out.
There is another story about how Nicholas secretly helped out a man who couldn't pay the dowries for his daughters. So Nick snuck over at night, threw some gold coins in the window which just happened to land in the stockings hung by the fire to dry! There are many things attributed to this early man of God.
So - on many St. Nicholas Day mornings I make gingerbread men - but the old gingerbread cookie cutters had a bishops mitre (the pointy cap you see) as opposed to the roly-poly gingerbread men we traditionally see here in the states. So actually we're making gingerbread Bishops.
In honor of St. Nick today - consider doing an anonymous kindness for someone. Take a Salvation Army Bell Ringer some hot chocolate, or hand out some gift certificates to a local grocery store to our neighbors in need. Nicholas was motivated by the love of God to love others.
My friend Beth, who discipled me when I lived in Corvallis, used to celebrate St. Nicholas day every year - it is when they gave their Christmas gifts. After St. Nick day, they'd put away the Santa stuff, and concentrate solely on the wonder of Jesus coming as an infant to bring the miracle of God Incarnate to us. Her daughter was asked by a lady at the checkout stand, "So, is Santa going to visit you this year?" And Lissa answered, "St. Nicholas has already visited, and now we are looking forward to celebrating Jesus."
So-I urge you to investigate more about the real St. Nick - a lover of God and others. There's a great website at www.stnicholascenter.org with tons of details and a lot more ideas of how to celebrate.
Oh - btw - it was Clement C. Moore's famous poem, "Twas the Night before Christmas" (1823) that gave us the first glimpse of the now U.S. version of Saint Nicholas. Then in 1931 - Coca Cola started using St. Nick for advertising with the tagline: "Thirst knows no season."