Entering into the Santa vs. Non-Santa or St. Nicholas camps can be as heated as to Harry Potter, or not. This is not that post.
Honestly? I don’t concern myself with whether families choose to celebrate the jolly man in red or not. Their family, their culture, their choice. My beef has always been with kids who tell mine they’re wrong for believing in Santa. Or, worse yet, parents who tell me I’m doing it wrong.
I’m pretty sure we have better things to do with our time. In our house we celebrate both men and it has been an evolution of love and celebration. Here’s how we do it.
It wasn’t until we had kids that we chose to celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas. Quite honestly, it wasn’t until our first child started school. The kindergarten teachers encouraged us to do some fun activities with our kids surrounding the feast day. Thank God for Catholic school teachers. Now, on the evening of December 5, our children set out their shoes in hopes that St. Nicholas will make a pit stop. We write letters to Santa (in our house, they’re one in the same) using this printable. Typically, St. Nicholas is kind enough to leave Christmas pajamas, a Christmas book or two and – the highlight of the stop – chocolate coins. I’m not a huge celebrator of all the feast days the Catholic church remembers, but St. Nicholas I adore. Will’s middle name is Nicholas. We have always admired this saint and what he represents.
Yes, we do the obligatory photo with Santa. Not sure if you’ve heard, but the *real* Santa wears cowboy boots. It’s true. We usually visit him the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (shorter lines). This year, Gianna was not a fan. I think my favorite part of visiting him is that he really takes time to listen to my kids, give them a high five and remind them to be good to dear old mom and dad. He brings out the best in my kids. Every year.
A few years ago, we shifted the focus away from Santa and onto Jesus Christmas morning. It wasn’t any one thing, but lots of little ones. We have asked Santa to refrain from bringing the kids any big things on Christmas morning and leave that fun to us. Gratefully, he obliged. His gifts are usually family games, a little sugar, some small gift cards to favorite places, books and little toys. Scott and I have chosen to give our children three gifts. You can read more about that tradition here.
Before opening our presents, we pray over them, offering thanksgiving for those that made them, those that gave them and the jobs they provided. It ramps down the crazy and returns the focus. Of course they’re excited they get to open presents (who wouldn’t be?!), but this reminds them every good gift comes from a higher place.
Honestly, our traditions have evolved as our children have grown (and been added!) to the family. I think that’s the beauty of family, you do what’s right based on your own unique family culture. It changes. The meaning of it all becomes more important than the gifts you give and who gives them. There is no one right, or Catholic, way to celebrate the generosity of St. Nicholas.
May each of you have a blessed Christmas, no matter what man in red comes to visit your home.