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Maggie
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Posted: Dec 04 2007 at 1:53pm | IP Logged Quote Maggie

Hello everyone!

My name is Maggie, and I am new here. You can check out my intro in the fireside chat forum...

I love the Domestic Church forum, and I have gleaned some great ideas.

My oldest is only 2.5yog. However, she is incredibly perceptive and bright. I have been able to take some of the ideas from the St. Nicholas Center and do a small "unit" with coloring sheet, board books, and making a hand puppet.

However, my husband and I are at a loss as to what to do about "Santa Claus." We don't really want to emphasize that at all, but I don't want to take away all that is "mystery" and "magical' (in th pure sense of the word) for my children.

We were thinking of telling her that "Santa Claus" is just another name for St. Nicholas. I tried that yesterday, but she was confused. I dropped it.

It's just that when they are this age, everyone asks them, "Have you seen SC? Is SC going to visit?"

Any advice?

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Rachel May
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Posted: Dec 04 2007 at 2:11pm | IP Logged Quote Rachel May

This Santa thread I remember being pretty interesting and giving a spectrum of approaches.

We always call him St. Nicholas and do a special Dec. 6 thing. He still brings 1 small Jesus related stocking stuffer on Christmas, but we talk about him most this week. We read the True Story of Santa Claus by Paul Prokop which helps reconcile the St. Nicholas/Santa confusion without spoiling any of the magic, imo.

Just last night, the boys were arguing with a neighbor about whether St. Nick was a spirit (our family) and could therefore do miracles (like break into your house) or whether he was a 1000 year old man (other kid) who is magical (so could come down chimneys, but needed you to leave the door unlocked if you don't have one, and we don't). Neither converted the other.   

When people first began asking the kids about Santa, I would say to them, "When is Saint Nicholas coming?" or "What did Saint Nicholas bring you on his feast?" translating for the kids and giving the adult a hint about our approach. Good luck!

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Posted: Dec 04 2007 at 6:53pm | IP Logged Quote pixilated_momma

Hi, Maggie.

My children are 7, 5 and juuuust shy of 2. I've always taught them the story of Saint Nicholas, and said that people remember him, but sometimes people added to the story and we ended up with Santa Claus. I said that the spirit of Christmas is more like Saint Nicholas. (It's about the same with Easter, which I told them people got carried away with the idea of new life and started up the Easter bunny. I think it's important for them to know that the world will add its own spin on spiritual matters ...)

To be honest (and not to be disrespectful), but I've never understood the idea that *not* believing in Santa takes away from the magic of the season. Like I tell the kids, what is more amazing and magical and wonderful than God becoming a little baby for the world to hold?

We do celebrate St. Nicholas' feast day with stocking stuffers and cookies and a viewing of "The Boy Who Became Santa" DVD.

When people ask, my kids just flat out say, "Oh, we don't believe in Santa Claus." And they say it nicely and politely. They actually think it's rather strange for adults to ask them about it.

I want them to be able to upfront about stuff (without being combative). God knows they've heard enough "Oh, why aren't you in school?" questions, so they've learned to just say, "We homeschool" rather than go through a whole spiel.

Again, this is just my two cents ... Some of our friends do the Santa Claus thing, and I just tell my children to SHHhhhhh, it's up to the Mommy and Daddy to tell them the whole story.

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Posted: Dec 04 2007 at 7:10pm | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

Rachel May wrote:
This Santa thread I remember being pretty interesting and giving a spectrum of approaches.


I think this is the link Rachel is referring to.

Love,

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Posted: Dec 04 2007 at 10:20pm | IP Logged Quote Angi

We have St. Nick bring small gifts on his day and Santa brings sock and underclothes . Any my 6 year old STILL gets caught up in the letters to Santa, visiting him etc. Why she wants to visit the sock bringer I will never understand.
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Posted: Dec 04 2007 at 10:57pm | IP Logged Quote Matilda

We do pretty much what Rachel says and it doesn't take long for friends and family to pick up on the St. Nick vs. Santa Claus thing. We always call him St. Nicholas, but my kids know that Santa Claus is just a variation of his name so they are OK with people asking them about "Santa".

The way it has always worked in our house is in my opinion, the best of both worlds. They write a letter to St. Nick telling him what act of sacrifice they are going to work on during Advent and one special thing they might like to have. They leave it in their shoe the night before his feast day. He leaves them a letter in return telling them what they might need to work on in the virtue or habit department. They get little treats mostly of the chocolate variety in their shoe on the 6th and if they work hard on their spiritual offerings, he will arrange for a surprise in their stocking on Christmas Day.

I don't worry about them not believing someday because they know that the saints inspire us throughout every day to try to do more, be better, ask for their intercession, etc.... St. Nicholas' example of generosity and holiness inspires us to be generous with them and challenge them to grow in their spiritual life.

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Posted: Dec 05 2007 at 12:11am | IP Logged Quote JodieLyn

We do both.. and my kids do know that St. Nicholas is Santa Claus.. two might be a bit young.. but some people call me Jodie and some call me Mrs. (last name) and the kids call me Mommy.. though sometimes Mom.. I have lots of names.. so it's not really hard to understand that St. Nicholas would have lots of names too.

St. Nicholas comes on Dec 6 because it's his feast day and the kids get some little things (mostly treats, some candy, raisins, fruit roll ups) and maybe a little gift.. this year they're all getting one dvd on St. Nicholas.. last year they each got one of those giant bells on a cord type "necklace" (nothing big basically)

And then on Christmas Santa comes to celebrate the birth of Christ.. and the stockings are filled.. but again candy.. some little toys.. usually a hotwheel.. or a pair of sunglasses ($2 variety).. several little toys.. but still *little*.. they're fun.. but they're not big gifts.. There are no gifts under the tree from Santa.. even to the point of having to relable the kids presents from relatives who couldn't seem to get out of the habit of labeling every single gift as from Santa. Just slap a new tag over the other

It's not the only way.. but it's a good step for us.. coming from families that celebrated with Santa on Christmas.. and incorporating more Catholic traditions into our lives without just tossing everything we did and our families still do...

And even knowing that Santa only does stockings.. my kids will still do the big wish lists for Santa oh well.. it's kinda nice for me to be able to ask "what did you ask Santa for" and they'll tell me

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Posted: Dec 05 2007 at 6:25pm | IP Logged Quote jugglingpaynes

I'm going to be completely honest here. There are two reasons we celebrate St. Nicholas Day AND Three Kings Day. The first is to celebrate our family history. Being part Spanish, I grew up putting grass and water under my bed to feed the wise men's camels. I'm also part German, as is my husband. Even though I never celebrated St. Nick's Day, my cousins did, and I wanted to introduce this to my children.

The second reason is purely selfish. I wanted to spread out the gift giving. We have rather generous relatives, and they used to go overboard when it came to gift giving. The children would be so overwhelmed by all the presents they would suffer Christmas meltdowns. We decided to use St. Nicholas Day and Little Christmas as a way for my husband and me to celebrate and give our own gifts to the children in a quiet, intimate setting. Yes, Santa and the Kings get the credit, but some day our children will appreciate our effort. I know I appreciate my parents doing it for me.

Peace and Laughter,

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Posted: Dec 06 2007 at 7:06am | IP Logged Quote vmalott

jugglingpaynes wrote:
The second reason is purely selfish. I wanted to spread out the gift giving. We have rather generous relatives, and they used to go overboard when it came to gift giving.


That's exactly why we started celebrating St. Nicholas Day several years ago. I grew up with my mom giving us stocking stuffers in addition to our bigger Christmas presents. She'd actually wrap all those small gifts before loading the stockings, and it was fun to go through and try to guess what she was giving (we got pretty good at it over the years, as she tended to buy the same things).

Well, DH grew up in a similar household (sans the wrapping on the stuffers), and I guess my MIL missed it so much that now she treats the grandchildren (AND us kids/spouses) to stockings in addition to a bigger present. I used to get upset about it, because it's expensive and too much, etc. But I then realized I couldn't take that joy away from her or oppose her generosity, as it is so much from the heart. And, well, being stubborn, I certainly couldn't give up my desire to carry on the stocking tradition.

So, now we do stockings on St. Nick. It's fun for the kids, and it builds the excitement. They know that Santa Claus has grown out of the original St. Nicholas tradition, and that the gifts they receive on Christmas are from family. And when we get that inevitable question "Is Santa Claus real?" we turn it right back to them: "Is St. Nicholas real?"

Valerie

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Posted: Dec 06 2007 at 9:57am | IP Logged Quote Barbara C.

We do Santa Claus. My husband walked past the other night as I was reading this post and asked, "What does Saint Nicholas have to do with Santa Claus?" He is not Catholic, and let's just say he is rather dubious about the Church in general and saints in particular.

The thing that surprised me in a few of these posts is that some of you have relatives who want to mark their presents as being from Santa Claus. That just seems really disrespectful whether your family does Santa Claus or not. In my extended family and friend network, Santa was always the domain of parents only.

Even each home does Santa differently. We never had any of our Santa stuffed wrapped, while I had friends who received everything wrapped from Santa. And during the time when I still "believed" in Santa I understood that Santa worked differently in each family. It seems like an outsider giving wrapped gifts marked from Santa could be even more confusing and ruin some of the magic. (Why didn't Santa leave these under the tree with the rest? Why did he wrap these but not those?)

My mother often fills a stocking up under her tree for everyone in addition (including adults) to one or two bigger presents, but it is always clear that it was Memaw who filled that stocking, not Santa. For some reason, the thought of relatives doing that, no matter how well-meaning, really bugs me. Maybe this pregnancy is making me super ornery.

Oh, and I remember St. Nicholas day fondly, too. We never did it at home. In first grade, though, I remember setting our shoes in the hallway (with a name tag) for St. Nick to fill during the day. Of course, by the time I was in 8th grade I understood the trick as I was expected to play St. Nicholas and leave treats for the first-grader assigned as my little brother.

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Posted: Dec 06 2007 at 2:07pm | IP Logged Quote CathinCoffeland

Hi Maggie!- Ohh Im excited to see another Maggie so I have to ask is it Maggie or Margaret?

Im "just" Maggie
Welcome!

We celebrate St. Nicholas- mine are 6.5, 3.5 and about 1.

We always used the name "St Nicholas" and when asked if they believe in santa they will say they celebrate St. Nick.

We explained that when there were no priests around to explain the faith that people confused the true stories of St. Nicholas with other pagan or just made up stories and that is why some people talk about Santa or Father Christmas- we say that it isnt bad to celebrate this way its just not the fullness of the meaning.

Boy it sound like we sat them down at 2 an give them the lecture - we just talked about it a little at a time and answered questions as they came up.

We read lots of St. Nick stories and watch the movie mentioned above.

we celebrate on the 6th and get stocking filled on christmas eve.

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Posted: Dec 14 2007 at 5:49pm | IP Logged Quote MaryM

jugglingpaynes wrote:
Being part Spanish, I grew up putting grass and water under my bed to feed the wise men's camels.


Did you put the hay in your shoes? I just became aware of that custom recently. There is a cute little Christmas Alphabet book - N is for Navidad which includes lots of Latino Christmas customs.

The book has lots of subtle Catholic references in it as well (in addition to ones you would expect like Posadas and iglesia/church). Abuela (grandma) wears a mantilla to church. There is an Our Lady of Guadalupe image on a calendar the family is looking at. The sacerdote (priest) is their guest for dinner.

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Posted: Dec 14 2007 at 6:57pm | IP Logged Quote jugglingpaynes

MaryM wrote:
Did you put the hay in your shoes? I just became aware of that custom recently. There is a cute little Christmas Alphabet book - N is for Navidad which includes lots of Latino Christmas customs.


We usually used a plate for the hay and a bowl for the water. The hardest thing was finding hay in New York in December. My dad grew up in Puerto Rico, they did this every year on Epiphany when he was a boy, even though the family was so poor that most years the hay and water was gone and no gift was left. (I got to hear that story every year growing up!)

Not to completely hijack this thread, but cute story: When we first moved to this house, we discovered sparrows had been living in the attic. They must have been there for years because there was a bale sized mound of hay they brought in for nesting. We were so amazed we brought our oldest, then seven, up in the attic to see it. "Where do you think that came from?" I asked her.
She looked at me with wide eyes and asked, "Did the wise men bring their camels up here?"

Peace and Laughter!

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Posted: Dec 17 2007 at 8:01pm | IP Logged Quote SallyT

Hm, I just commented on a post on this subject on an evangelical Protestant blog . . . I was the only one in the conversation who "did" Santa.

"Santa Claus" of course is just another version of the name "Saint Nicholas." When the kids ask about "Santa," we talk about Saint Nicholas, which helps to weed out what's true and what's folk legend which we can take as fiction, like having reindeer (not in Asia Minor), having a "Mrs. Claus" (not if you're a bishop), living at the North Pole (see "Asia Minor," above), and so on. We do have Santa gifts on Christmas, though we keep it modest -- one item plus stocking.

We have also habitually called him Father Christmas, having lived in England, where that's his name, and having read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where he is a miraculous presence pointing to the coming of Aslan. In fact, that's become our rationale for "doing" him -- because he's something of an icon for the vocation of a saint: to point the rest of us to God. However, exactly, he came to be associated with Christmas as well as his own feast, he is bound up with the joy of the coming of Christ, and his gifts, and the sense of miracle that surround them, point to the great Gift.

My 10yo and I just had a conversation about Santa the other day, the general theme of which was how fiction can be deeply true . . .

At House Art Journal Regina Doman has a post up about an out-of-print Tomie de Paola book which speaks to this question.

HTH!

Sally

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Posted: Dec 18 2007 at 9:11am | IP Logged Quote donnalynn

We keep St. Nicholas and Santa Claus separate figures and it works very well for us.

My dh comes from a totally secular background and childhood - the grandparents on this side simply do not relate to Santa Claus as religious figure. And by keeping them separate we have actually had better conversations about saints in general, sainthood etc..

Also my mom who raised us Catholic as best she could also always did "Santa" - when I met "St. Nicholas" later in life I didn't personally find a connection between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus - the attempts to reconcile the two figures just don't work for me - but I do love Hertha Pauli's book on St. Nicholas' Travels.

So in creating our family traditions I decided to look at the larger context of our family culture - I decided it would be too hurtful to extended family to do away Santa Claus. But I also felt that trying to make Santa Claus into St. Nicholas wouldn't give him due honor as a Saint in heaven.

I think of Santa Claus as more an embodiment of generosity - of course he brings his gifts on Christmas to reflect the greatest Gift ever given to mankind. Santa Claus came to life through the minds and imagination of mankind where St. Nicholas wrought miracles through the power of God.

I was a philosophy major in college and well - I probably thought about the whole thing way too much . But it works for us!

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