This past week, a television special aired called, “The Secret Santa.” The show was a thinly veiled faux investigation report on searching for the real Santa. Shows like this are gaining in popularity and I must admit to watching at least one episode of Finding Bigfoot; which I think should be called, “Looking for Bigfoot” as they never seem to find him. Incidentally, I think I ruined the show for Ethan when I said, “You know, if Bigfoot was actually found, it would be on the news and not revealed on Animal Planet many months after the discovery.” Still, it’s entertaining to watch grown adults wandering around in the woods at night scaring each other.
Nevertheless, I think the Spirit of St. Nicholas, which is akin to the spirit of giving, is alive and present. This spirit, however, is not easily captured on camera. Maybe that’s by design because we enter this Christmas season by faith not by sight.
Recently, a parishioner shared a story with me about the spirit of giving that he wants shared. He was at a grocery store and was purchasing a large amount of food for the holidays. The customer next to him said, “I’d like to purchase your groceries.” Preparing for a sales pitch or some sort of fraudulent act, our parishioner politely declined. The customer continued talking with him and said, again, that he’d like to buy his groceries. After thinking about it, our parishioner took the stranger up on his offer. I think, frankly, it was an act of the Holy Spirit for him to accept the gift because he’s not one to be easily convinced. He and his wife are quite generous but perhaps hesitant to receive from others. The grocery bill came to around $219. The kind stranger reached into his well-worn wallet and pulled out all the money he had. It came to $200. He asked our parishioner if he could cover the remaining $19 and change. After the exchange, our parishioner asked the stranger what he could do for him. The only request was for prayers. At our 8 am service, we prayed, and prayed earnestly, for this kind stranger. Was this stranger Santa? Or, was this the spirit of giving as shown in the life of St. Nicholas?
If you read the story above closely, you’ll notice I prefaced it with the fact that our parishioner wanted it shared. Reading between the lines, one could assume that I’ve been told stories of the spirit of giving that are not to be shared. I can’t even tell you if that is a correct assumption, but I think your heart knows.
Despite commercialization and television dramatization, this is a magical season. There are many wonders that occur and some of them come in forms of gifts. Whether it is a generous stranger that offers to pay for groceries, or a kind stranger that says words of hope to someone hospitalized over Christmas, or a mysterious wrapped package found under the tree, the spirit of giving is alive and well. May the Giving Spirit bless you and your family this Christmas season,