It’s easy to lose the spirit of the Christmas season in the midst of all of the shopping and planning for the upcoming holiday. Buying this and ordering that, I’m reminded of Linus bemoaning how we have “gone commercial” in the TV classic, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.” But it hasn’t always been that way for me. True, there have always been distractions at Christmastime. As I listen to my kids’ December chatter, though, I remember that once upon a time I wasn’t worried about everything I had to do for Christmas. I was distracted by a much more important thing: what was I going to get for Christmas?
It’s easy for a kid to adopt an “it’s all about me” attitude at Christmastime. With letters to Santa, endless commercials, and those oh-so-tempting presents under the tree, we almost force it upon them! Helping your child discover the joy of giving and the importance of considering others is a challenging thing, but the Christmas season presents the perfect opportunity to do so. One new tool to help you in your quest is The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall.
Mackall begins her story with a contemporary setting, following a boy who faces a classic Christmas conundrum: why spend his money on gifts when he can spend it on himself? His attention is soon captured, however, by a department store Santa Claus telling the story of St. Nicholas. We are taken back in time to learn about Nicholas, a young man of some financial means. As Nicholas discovers that many around him are in need, he finds ways to secretly meet those needs, learning the joy of giving in the process. Moved by the impact his gifts have on those around him, Nicholas decides to always commemorate the birth of Christ – the gift given by God – with the giving of gifts. The story of St. Nicholas has the expected effect: after hearing the story, Mackall’s contemporary subject decides to spend his money on gifts for his siblings and for a toy drive for the poor.
Beautifully illustrated by Guy Porfirio, The Legend of St. Nicholas is a delightful picture book to share with your children. Geared towards the eight-and-under crowd, Mackall’s story does a good job of introducing children to the story of St. Nicholas while reinforcing the timeless truth: ’tis more blessed to give than to receive.
Jen Martin holds degrees in English and early childhood education. She is an at-home mom to four children under the age of 10, which means she is able to share her love of children’s literature with a captive audience! Full disclosure: Jen’s husband, Ben, is editor of THE FATHER LIFE.