What's in your stocking? Probably one of two things: your foot or nothing. Not surprising considering St. Nick's Day isn't even marked on any of our three calendars. You have to be reminded when passing pharmacies, "Don't forget St. Nick's", or "Stop here for your St. Nick stocking stuffers".
Maybe someone, or a group of people, years ago thought Santa Claus didn't get enough recognition for his practice of sharing the wealth with poorer people. Somehow, and Coca-Cola ads didn't hurt, Santa's celebration moved over to join Jesus on December 25th. It probably began innocently enough and was likely a good combination. The birth in a stable of someone who would go on to cure the sick and encourage simple living and acts of charity, combined with someone who was born wealthy but also loved children and did his best to take care of the poor.
So when did the true meaning of Christmas become borrowing to buy a gift card to exchange with someone who borrowed to buy a gift card for you? Or, as Arlo of the Arlo and Janis comic strip said today, "When the health of the nation will be judged by how much imported junk is purchased on credit by a population already under stress!"
If you'd like to get back to the true meaning of Christmas, or if you'd like your kids to experience it, I strongly encourage a visit to Elmbrook Church's Bethlehem Marketplace. It's very special and happens only every three years. It's an authentic recreation you won't find better organized anywhere else. It has all the sights, sounds, smells... of Mary and Joseph's Bethlehem. The shop keepers, criminals, census takers, animals, beggars, craftsmen and workers are all there. Nothing is missing but the weather outside.
Three dollars takes you back to a time before Santa Claus. When Christmas still meant something. Don't wait too long: it's going on just the next two weekends.