Each year I yearn for an image of Christmas perfection: peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Looking at our world today would suggest that a lot of work needs to be done to bring about this vision. But still, I wait in joyful hope that our world will someday celebrate peace, love and joy the world over.

As a child, the image of Christmas in my little world seemed just about perfect. Miraculously, good ‘ole St. Nicholas (Santa) would arrive in homes all over the world and he didn’t discriminate. Christmas was my favorite day of the year. Everything about the day was perfect. In my home, as a child, the holiday wasn’t religious – Jesus was not yet in the picture for me. It was more about nice presents, bows and love.

A convert to Catholicism, the holiday became much more in my adulthood. God becomes human so that humans can become God-like. A savior born to save humanity needs a lot of help, and we are called to reflect his perfection to others. Our salvation depends on it. We must work together in peace and harmony. Clearly we need strong, enlightened leaders and good mentors to pull this task off – suddenly this job has become more intense!

It seems that innocence in childhood begins to fall apart when we start doubting the true existence of St. Nicholas. After all, isn’t Santa just about perfect in the eyes of a child? By all accounts he is a wonderful role model that can lead us to perfection. Maybe a little focus on him and his good works at the start of the season could put the true meaning of the whole season into proper focus and perspective.

Bishop St. Nicholas, fourth century bishop of Myra, was a shy man who gave money generously and anonymously. Legend speaks of his love and kindness to children. The result of his love and generosity were seen as miracles. His most famous story tells of the help that he gave to three young girls who all had suitors but no dowries because their father was very poor and unable to raise the money. Sadly, this would mean that the girls would be unable to marry.

When the time came for each of the girls to marry, miraculously and mysteriously bags of gold were tossed to the girls. It has been told that St. Nicholas climbed on the roof and dropped the third girl’s gold down the chimney. She had hung her stockings by the fire to dry, and the gold landed in the stocking. Hence, the tradition of hanging stockings begun.

The days of dowries, and fear of lack of them, may be behind us, but they’ve been replaced with other modern day worries. Big ones in our midst today, locally, is the fear of financial resources to heat homes this winter. As we face the cold season, and the holidays, the teachings of St. Nicholas and his care for those less fortunate, have manifest themselves in local groups, individuals, and businesses that are our modern day saints-in-the-making and they are very much alive in our community!

A group of 8th graders at St. Maximilian Kolbe parish will offer babysitting services from 8 a.m. to noon this Saturday. For a donation of $10/child, parents can use this time to shop. All of the money will be donated to Project G.R.A.C.E. to provide fuel assistance to families in need this winter. This fuel money will go even further, thanks to Jeff Quirk, from Quirk Oil. He has offered deep discount pricing to Project G.R.A.C.E.

Our community is truly blessed.

There is a church named for St. Nicholas in Scarborough and this Saturday, Dec. 10 they will be holding a market in honor of St. Nicholas, patron saint of children. The congregation has recreated an Austrian open-air market for the entire community to enjoy from noon to 6:30 p.m. Great music, hearty Bavarian food, kids craft activities, a gift shop for kids, trees and wreaths, and a hay ride (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). The celebration wouldn’t be complete without a visit from good ‘ole St. Nick.

Peace throughout the world may be a lofty vision. But the spirit of good ‘ole St. Nicholas is very much alive in Scarborough. Whether you choose to believe in him or not – it’s up to you. But I believe! And I’m especially grateful to the many saints-in-the-making who do their part to make our world a better place. Have a great weekend.

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