When I was growing up, every year on the evening of December 5th we would place a shoe by the fireplace before we went to bed so that St. Nicholas could fill it with goodies when he stopped by for a visit in the middle of the night. This was a tradition that my mother’s family had followed when she was young and she shared it with us. She told us the story of Nicholas of Myra and all the good he did for those to whom he ministered. He helped those in need and even found creative ways to share with those who needed help. He remained strong in his faith even after he was sent to prison for it.
The most important gift that Nicholas gave to the people in his care was the gift of his presence. This is the greatest gift anyone can give. Is it any wonder that the story of a man as giving as St. Nicholas morphed into the loving mystery of a man in a red suit that comes to give every child in the world gifts on Christmas Day?
We are called to be as faithful and giving as he was, especially at this time of year when God in His infinite wisdom chose to offer to us the most perfect gift of his divine presence in the person of His only begotten Son to be our Savior. This year instead of putting so much of our focus on the presents of this Christmas season why don’t we place more emphasis on offering the gift of our presence instead?