Saint Nicholas of Myra, a fourth-century Christian bishop is considered the real-life model for our modern-day Santa Claus.
Bishop Nicholas came from a rather wealthy family. It is said that he used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children and his concern for sailors.
He once said, “The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic His giving by grace through faith, and this is not of ourselves.”
Nicholas became a Christmas legend when he helped a poor man and his three daughters. This poor man had no dowry to ensure his daughters would find good husbands. The daughters, without a dowry, were destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left in front of the fire to dry. Thus came about the custom of hanging stockings by the fire place in hopes that Saint Nicholas would come.
Through all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, think about how you can touch the life of someone right next to you. All around us are people struggling in these difficult economic times. Those who are struggling look much like you and me. Find a way to make a difference; drop some change in the bell ringer’s pot, donate food and clothing to a shelter, pay some or the entire grocery bill for the family in line behind you, take a meal to the family down the street, or volunteer at a soup kitchen.
These generous acts of kindness often have a greater impact on people than you will ever know. Follow your heart and Saint Nicholas’ lead, and do something totally unexpected for someone else. You might just be their “Saint Nicholas!”