As I prepared to sleep that night, I realized that the stockings remained empty. Tomorrow, December 6 is St Nicholas' feast day. My daughter is too smart to know when she'd see candies from our pantry because she'd often look for snacks in there. This time I turned to him and prayed. What do you want me to put in the stockings? The answer was quite a surprise. I picked up the two little Advent blue books that we got from the church and put these in the girls' stockings with a little note "I want you to take turns with your sister in reading from this book during your night prayers." I also got the two rosaries from my keepsake box and put it in my husband's and my stockings with a little note. "I want you to pray the rosary every night." Signed St. Nicholas. That night the girls read from the blue book. That night, my husband and I prayed the rosary together.
The next day, I had the urge to go to the gift shop and buy the girls these little journal books. It went to the girls' stockings with a note, "This will be your prayer journal. I want you to use this when you pray to Jesus." I saw my 8-year-old fill the page each day with Dear Jesus letters.
One day, holding her journal she came to me and said, "so did you buy this journal, mommy?" I was busy in my computer and absent-mindedly answered, "Yes." She fell silent and when I looked at her there was tremendous dismay written all over her face. Surprised, I asked her why. Teary-eyed she said, "But I thought St Nicholas himself came and put this in my stockings!" She marched out the door and cried. Oh, no. Now what do I do? The morning scripture reading flashed in my mind from Matthew 18: 14: "In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost." I turned to God and to St. Nicholas in prayer. "Guide me and help me deal with this your way." My daughter's sobbing fell into the background as my mind embraced the silence. Then I started typing in the google box "St Nicholas" and this website seemed to jump out of the screen: www.stnicholascenter.org. The homepage has this written. "Who is St. Nicholas? Who is Santa Claus? Are they the same?"
I grew excited and from my mind, I heard God say, "Go get your daughter." I picked her little sobbing figure from the stairs and cuddled her in front of me as we faced the computer. I said, "Look, this is the real Santa Claus." We read the history of Santa Claus and how the world has distorted the factual character into a fictional one. We read at how St Nicholas gave gifts to the poor in secret and how the nuns have carried on the tradition in his name. God inspired me to say these words to her, "You know, this is how the kingdom of God works. God and the saints use people on earth to do their works for them. We are their hands, their mouth and their body. When I bought that journal, it was because St Nicholas asked me to." She asked, "Why?" And I answered spontaneously, surprising even myself, "Because if he does it himself, then only you would receive the gift. But when he asked me and I agreed, both of us received something -- you received your gift and I receive my reward for giving. That is how God's kingdom work." She looked at the journal, held it close to her heart, looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, mommy and thank you. Thank you too, St. Nicholas." She had her smile on her face as she went out of the room.
From that day, St Nicholas continued to reveal himself to us. The website helped a lot. Now my daughter knows that the real Santa Claus does not live in the north pole with Mrs Claus and the elves but lives in heaven with God and His saints and angels and continues to visit the earth through his human helpers. He is not the fictional character who steals the event from Jesus but instead he helps us prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. This Christmas, we all became believers in the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas.