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Today is the feast day of St. Nicholas. As my friend JZ would say, “Yes, Virginia (and DC and Maryland) there *is* a Santa Claus.”
St. Nicholas was raised in a wealthy and devout Christian family in the third century. He became Bishop of Myra (which would now be a part of Turkey) and is venerated for his great generosity and care for others. He spent his whole inheritance helping those in need. Among other things, he is said to have thrown bags of gold into the homes of unmarried, dowry-less women to save them from a life a prostitution. God bless him. He also had a thing for helping children and saving sailors from storms at sea.

Somewhere along the line, the St. Nicholas legend became the Santa Claus legend, and the tradition of giving gifts in his honor (like good ole’ St. Nicholas did in his day) was carried to Christmas Day. (Of course, that’s not the only gift influence on Christmas, but part of it.) A coworker pointed out to me that perhaps St. Nicholas is sitting somewhere in heaven, feeling similar to all those people who have birthdays in December, saying, “Man, I just get lumped in with Christmas! Having your day in December stinks!” He turns to St. Patrick and laments, “No fair, you get the whole month of March in your honor!”

Practice some random act of kindness in honor of St. Nicholas today. And if you have an extra bag of gold, by all means pass it along to someone in need.

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