I recently told my own son this ‘true’ story of St Nick and he’s concluded this St Nick is ‘way more totally awesome’ than the fake Santa at the mall.
It’s even led to interrogatories on whether St Nick could beat up Bruce Wayne (yes…Jesus love trumps dark, tortured vengeance…my words not his).
You could tell your kids the vanilla, cliched story about a bearded fat man with an alcoholic’s complexion who lives in solitary confinement with a bunch of unpaid little people and who, once a year, sneaks into your house when your vulnerable and sleeping and if you’re good-but only if you’re good- he’ll leave you a present.
And if you’re naughty he’ll leave you a lump of garbage (because that’s a Christian understanding of grace…not).
You could tell your kids that story, which actually isn’t even a story. There’s no plot- no beginning, middle or end.
Or, you could tell your kids about St Nicholas, the 4th century bishop of Turkey.
St Nicholas attended the Council of Nicea in 325, from which we get the Nicene Creed.
Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, convened the council of bishops to debate the teaching of a priest named Arius.
Arius taught that God hadn’t fully or perfectly revealed himself in Jesus, which meant Arius also didn’t believe in the Trinity.
Anyways, at the Council of Nicea, while Arius argued his position St Nicholas- BECAUSE HE LOVED JESUS SO MUCH- started shaking with anger as Arius spoke.
St Nick turned red in the face, and eventually St Nick couldn’t take it anymore and he got up, walked straight up to Arius and punched him in the teeth.
The original Bad Santa.
Apparently, the other bishops thought Nick had overreacted (aside: its pretty bad when 4th century Christians think you’ve overreacted to a theological dispute) so they put him in chains and threw him in jail. But that night Jesus appeared to St Nicholas, freed him from his chains and gave him a bible. The next morning the guards discovered Nicholas freed from his chains and quietly reading scripture and they were amazed.
So Nicholas was set free to become a legend.
And Arius was labeled a heretic and exiled, and his death was cheered by the Christian world.
So you could tell your kids about a fat man who still drives a carriage like he’s a color blind Amish and apparently treats his reindeer like a North Pole Jim Crow.
Or you could tell your kids about St Nicholas, someone who loves Jesus so much he’s the only person on record to ever be congratulated by Jesus for pimp slapping someone.
But I’ll let you be the judge.