Elf is one of my favorite Christmas movies. One of the many classic scenes is the point when Will Ferrell determines that the actor in the toy store is not the real Santa. He accuses him of smelling like beef and cheese, pulls off the fake beard and the two end up in a brawl that takes down half the store.
We have tried to teach our kids that the images they see every year at this time are grounded in someone who actually lived. And as the story goes, St. Nicholas became known because of a unique generosity. He engaged in a form of giving that is rare these days – giving in secret to those who can’t pay you back.
Now he didn’t invent the concept. The idea came from Jesus. But he became known for it and the legend was born.
I have had the privilege of knowing some other individuals who understand the beauty of giving in the way Jesus instructed us. We have family members who have always sent us Christmas gifts knowing that we haven’t often been a position to give back. And just this week a friend at work left a bag of gifts at my desk for our kids.
What would Christmas be like if I aimed my giving at people who couldn’t give back to me? And what if I didn’t even tell them the gifts were from me? I am thinking Christmas would begin to feel more like Christmas.