This morning, many children (especially here in the Midwest) woke up and ran to where their stockings hung, eagerly peeking inside to see what goodies St. Nick had left for their enjoyment. The traditions surrounding St. Nicholas vary depending upon where in the world you live, with much of the US not celebrating the day.
St. Nicholas was a historic 4th-century Christian saint and the Greek Bishop of Myra. He is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker due to the many miracles attributed to his intercession. He is said to have spared three daughters from their father selling them into a life of prostitution, by secretly providing the dowry for each of them. He is also said to have provided safe passage for many ships during treacherous waters. He is even said to have brought three children (or merchants depending on who is telling the tale) back to life after a butcher killed them to sell as meat during a long famine. He is the patron saint of Greece and had a special place in his heart for children. He was a kind man who liked to give gifts, and he would do so secretly. Santa Claus is modeled after St. Nicholas.
I remember as a child, always having a stocking full of goodies on St. Nick's Day. My brother, Nick, would get irritated because it was his Name's Day and everybody else got gifts. We are Greek Orthodox and our mother has always made it a point to get us a gift for our Name's Day. In fact, mine just passed, and even at thirty-four years of age, I received a treasure that I will always hold dear. My mom made me a necklace out of a crystal that hung on our chandelier in the house I called home for eighteen-years. Man, oh man, did I ever hate cleaning that chandelier, but I did always love it.
Now that I am a mother myself, I have set forth in developing our own tradition for St. Nick's Day. We want our son to know that this day and every other, should be about making a positive impact on the people you love, your community, and the planet in general. St. Nick's day should not be about mass consumerism and the expectancy of receiving gifts. It should be about giving and kindness, which is what St. Nicholas was all about. Last year, I had the fleeting thought of starting up my own take on Elf on the Shelf. As a family, we decided that the Elf would never live in our house. No, I am not bashing those of you that partake in the elvish shenanigans. It is your family and your traditions. We are choosing to do Positivity Puppy with our little dude.
Positivity Puppy came about because I firmly believe that children, especially while very young, are a reflection of their adults. They mirror the things we do and say, even when we don't want them to. Milwaukee traffic sometimes leads me to say words I would not want repeated... So far, so good... I believe that one of the main ways to make the world a better place is to teach our children well, and to teach them to be kind, giving, loving, and generous in all that they do, such as St. Nicholas. Starting this morning, and every day til Christmas, Positivity Puppy will be a part of our lives. He already has been for the past couple months. He is Rayn's favorite stuffed animal that we bought on a whim while road-tripping back from Texas, so that Rayn would have a travel buddy. IKEA did not disappoint. "Bubba" the yellow dog was instantly a hit, and is now another body in our bed at night.
I came up with twenty different positive, kind things that Rayn could do at the age of twenty-months. Every day will be something new and every year will see changes to the different kind acts. Once he is old enough, we will incorporate volunteering into the mix and other age-appropriate good doings. For now, the kind acts are simple, and are things he can do to help out his family, the community, and the world. Positive acts have a wide reach and do not go unnoticed. I also made it a point that this year, none of the acts will cost us any extra money. I work with a lot of poverty-stricken individuals and this time of year is extremely difficult. Being a good person doesn't cost a thing. I want to help start a positivity revolution, from my family to yours. We can make the world a better place.