Dec. 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, is especially well suited for children. It is a little foretaste of Christmas, an occasion when we can drive home the message that there is joy in heaven when we share our blessings with the less fortunate.
The night before St. Nicholas Day, gather the children and tell them his story, or read together a child-friendly account of his life, such as “The Legend of St. Nicholas” (Simon & Schuster, $19.95), by award-winning children’s author Demi, or one of the stories available online at the St. Nicholas Center website (www.stnicholascenter.org).
Have the children hang a sock or place one of their shoes at the foot of their beds. After the children are asleep, leave a small toy and some Christmas chocolates in their sock or shoe as a gift from St. Nicholas.
On St. Nicholas Day, hold a party in your home, or at your parish’s school or church hall. Have an adult dress as St. Nicholas. You’ll need a red cape, a bishop’s miter that can be made of cardboard covered with gold or silver foil, and a fake white beard. This is an opportunity to shift the focus of the holiday from the things the children receive to what they can do to brighten the day of less fortunate children. Let each child give St. Nicholas some chocolates, candy canes or gingerbread cookies that the saint will take to the local food bank as a treat for disadvantaged children.