December 6 is St. Nicholas Day. (On the Julian calendar, it is December 19th.) The Dutch tradition of filling children's shoes with treats that they discover in the morning of St. Nicholas Day is observed by families around the world.
St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who cared and provided for the poor and sick in his homeland, which is today part of Turkey. His saint day is December 6 because he's believed to have died on that date in the year 343, according to Biography.com.
After his death, the stories of his generosity to those in need spread and we still tell them today.
St. Nicholas is thought to be the basis for Santa Claus - the man, the myth, the legend. I'm a big fan of the jolly old elf and I've written before about how I adore Santa Claus.
His day is the perfect time to make older kids deputy Santas and have them give back and help those in need. So, while my daughter will find a small piece of candy for her in her shoe, she will also find a card that she can use to make a charitable donation to one of three charitable organizations.
I picked the organizations based on her interests:
- adopting her favorite animal from the Shedd Aquarium,
- donating to Give Kids the World, an organization that gives kids with life-threatening illnesses vacations to her favorite place, or
- supporting a nonprofit dance company that teaches dance in school because dance is her favorite activity.
These have all given her joy, so she'll know first-hand that she's giving joy to others.
I want her to focus outwardly and remember that helping others is important, and that it has been for thousands of years. I want to remind her that she has that ability.
We'll also discuss some ways that she can do some acts of kindness for those in her community. I've written before about how sometimes my attempts at teaching my child to give back have had unintended and even laughable results. I'm hoping to avoid another giving fail, and this approach seems safer.
I have high hopes that this new St. Nicholas Day tradition will make the original Nicholas proud.
Happy St. Nicholas Day to you and yours!
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