Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday of the First Week of Advent: The Feast of St. Nicholas

Praise the Lord, all you nations;
   laud him, all you peoples.

For his loving-kindness toward us is great,
   and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever. Hallelujah!   Psalm 117

I dig out the shoes from underneath the coat rack and place them by the front door. A pair of combat boots and a pair of canvas sneakers. Into each go a handful of gold-foiled chocolate coins. It is the feast of St. Nicholas.

I had to run out to the store last night to buy the coins because I had forgotten to run the errand earlier. I debated for a moment. Did I want to get up from the warmth of our dinner table and go out into the cold rainy night? My girls are in high school, so perhaps this tradition is no longer necessary. 

When we started this tradition so many years ago, it was a celebration and a teaching. We wanted to give St. Nicholas his own space on his feast day, and so to teach our children about a real person, the Bishop of Myra, who became known across the centuries because he did care for children, and the poor, and he gave out of his bounty and his deep love for Christ. 

And now, as I wait for my teenagers to rise late on a Saturday morning and discover the chocolate treasure, I realize the simple joy this custom brings into our house carries real power. In this culture that celebrates the season with the garish and the sentimental, how significant it is to eke out sacred space. For my girls to receive, but also for me to give. Marking it. Setting it aside. A signpost on the Advent journey pointing to the love of Christ and the enduring faithfulness of God.

Read more about St. Nicholas here.
Copyright Anne E. Kitch 2014