St. Nicholas and the Social Arts, by Mara Spiropoulos

It is the middle of November and I am in the midst of organizing the house, sorting and simplifying the “things” that have collected, and gathering new and recycled items to create presents for the holidays. My motivation for organizing and simplifying is two-fold right now. In part I do it for I love the cleaner, simpler look and our family finds more peace this way; I am also trying to get myself, my children, and my home ready to start caring for a little one in our home. Making or buying handmade gifts has become a new tradition of giving for my family.

Completing the LifeWays program inspired me in so many ways that I am now beginning to put one of those inspirations to fruition – opening our home to a little baby boy or girl. Many might look at my current life as full enough, including myself at times! Lately though, I’ve been feeling a desire to open our home and hearts to another child. Logically, it makes sense to care for another child while I am blessed to stay home with my children. Spiritually, it feels like such a gift to give to myself, my children, and the family who finds us. The season of giving seems to be upon us already.

Manifesting the social arts in our home takes on many different facets. As I mentioned in my previous post, I try to help my children begin to learn these social arts through encouraging sharing and kind acts toward one another.  Another way is to help teach my children to give rather than solely get.

As the holidays draw near, my husband reminds me that he would like to see a post about the legend of St. Nicholas. It is important for him to understand the meaning and significance of the holidays we celebrate, and this importance is rubbing off on me. Plus, I like gathering the “male” input on what the LifeWays blog needs to include. (So, if there are any men reading these posts, please share with me what you’d like to see  here!)

Who is St. Nicholas? Why do we celebrate him on the 6th of November? St. Nicholas was first revered by sailors, who told stories about him while he was alive as they sailed to different ports and rivers. These stories revealed a man who embodied love. He loved the poor and is a patron saint of children. How and why did he become so revered? Many stories exist telling different tales, but they all give to us an image of a man who gave away everything he had to others. St. Nicholas appears to represent the pinnacle of the social arts – to give to others, with faith that when you give away every “thing” that you are told will bring you happiness, you will then find that true happiness comes with living a life of giving.

In researching St. Nicholas, I happened upon a story of him written by Margaret Meyerkort. Here is a link to the story for your reading pleasure: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/story-meyerkort/

Having been born to wealthy parents who instilled in him a deep love for God, St. Nicholas listened intently to Jesus’ words and gave away his inheritance to devote his life to assisting the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He died on December 6, AD 343, so we celebrate his life on this day by giving presents to children.

All my life, I celebrated St. Nicholas but never really understood why. Now, learning of his story, it is much more significant to me to give my children gifts on St. Nicholas Day. Having made our new tradition of giving handmade gifts rather than store bought, I find this to be a gratifying way of giving to others in St. Nicholas’ honor.

My husband and I feel it is important for our children to understand the significance of the holidays we choose to celebrate. Actually, our whole family has been moving toward embracing the togetherness of the holidays over the gifts. Don’t get me wrong, we love gifts, but really what matters is being together as a family. Taking into consideration the ages of our children, I think sharing a little story of St. Nicholas’ life in simple language will plant a seed of the social generosity that St. Nicholas embodied.  

After reading the story linked above, I think it would be a nice tradition to bake some homemade treats to share with neighbors, leaving them on the doorsteps just as St. Nicholas asked his servants to do. Maybe include a handwritten note telling our neighbors that we care for them and wish them happy holidays. How will you help your children embrace the social arts on St. Nicholas Day? I’d love to hear from you!

Resources:

http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/stories-legends/

http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/

Ideas for celebrating St. Nicholas Day http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/celebrate-at-home/

Mara Spiropoulos is the blog coordinator and parent voice for the LifeWays North America blog. She is a recent graduate of the LifeWays training program, resides in Milwaukee, WI, and a full-time mother to 3 young children. Mara enjoys spending time in nature, reading and researching natural parenting and living, and crafting. She would love to hear from anyone willing to be a guest writer and you can reach her by email at linearmara@gmail.com.

2 Comments for “St. Nicholas and the Social Arts, by Mara Spiropoulos”

Faith

says:

A St. Nicholas Picture Book that I Love
Thanks for sharing these resources, Mara! One picture book that I love is A St. Nicholas Story: The Fiercest Little Animal in the Forest, by Terri Reinhart. It is about a little pine marten who learns to be gentle and help St. Nicholas give gifts to the children. I had it in my home daycare and there was one little girl who was also learning to be gentle, and she LOVED this book like no other. We read it many, many times at her request!

Mara Spiropoulos

says:

Thank you Faith

Thank YOU Faith for this additional resource. I will definitely have to look this up as I use the work “gentle” often with my son.

 

Mara