Thought For The Day 12/08/14

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The Rest Of The Story…

   Post 1365   

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Depiction of Saint Nicholas. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Depiction of Saint Nicholas. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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True Happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery

http://www.searchquotes.com/search/Saint_Nicholas/

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We have long come to associate St. Nicholas (or Santa Claus) with the pipe smoking, white bearded, rosy-cheeked man whose picture adorns nearly every place we look come the last couple of months of every year. But have you ever wanted to hear the rest of the story? Well, here it is!

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The real St. Nick wasn’t a fat, pale, and rosy-cheeked jolly fella. In fact, he was quite the opposite. You see, he was born almost 300 years after Christ, and he was a darker complected Greek holy man who became bishop of a small town called Myra (now present-day Turkey). Sure, he probably had jolly good days, but his reputation was of a more serious nature. He was described as a firebrand and staunch defender of Christian doctrine and spent years in prison for refusing to reject his faith during religious persecution.

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Portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes, Saint Nicholas’s feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6th. His strong faith created a lasting legacy among the saints, and as such, two main stories  planted the seed that would, many centuries later, bring about the fat, bearded man in a red suit bearing gifts to young children. But just exactly what were those two stories that have driven home our modern-day characterization of Santa Claus? Well, the first tale reinforced Saint Nicholas’s reputation as protector of the poor. Legend has it that he saved three impoverished daughters from a life of prostitution by providing for their dowries. He offered three bags of gold for the young women, of which he tossed through an open window. The bags of gold landed into socks that were left near the chimney to dry. The second tale, which is rather morbid, reinforced his reputation as protector of children. Saint Nicholas walked into an Athens inn and discovered through his holy senses that the local inn keeper had robbed, murdered, and then pickled three young men in basement barrels. The Saint fervently prayed and resurrected their bodies back to life.

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Merry Old Santa Claus. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Merry Old Santa Claus. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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Despite various iterations handed down over the centuries, Dutch settlers brought the legend of Saint Nicholas, known to them as Sinter Klaas, to America towards the end of the 18th century. As their tradition goes, Sinter Klaas rode a white horse and left gifts in wooden shoes. This story merged with the British character Father Christmas, who dates back at least as far as the 17th century. Sinter Klaas was eventually Americanized to “Santa Claus.”

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The rituals and fantasy surrounding Santa Claus became fixed in the modern American imagination with the publication of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Moore in 1823. Better known as “The Night Before Christmas,” the poem established Santa’s physical appearance (plump and jolly), his mode of transportation (a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer), and his method of toy delivery (down the chimney) for generations to come.

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So now that you know the rest of the story, will you alter, in any way, your approach to your celebrations this year? I doubt it! I’m not sure that I will, as a matter of fact…. except to remember to include a greater emphasis in giving to others rather than in focusing on what I will be getting! After all, is it not the blessings of giving which bring to man the sense of joy, peace and love, that seems to make our world just a little bit brighter every December?

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There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.

Proverbs 11: 24 NASB

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Mandy 2014

Copyright © 2011-2014 “MandysPath” Ministry

History of Saint Nicholas adapted from http://www.biography.com/news/st-nicholas-santa-claus-origin-story

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About Mandy Bruscella

Mandy's Story: As a Registered Professional Nurse with Certification in a number of specialties including home care, I was afforded the opportunity of working closely with various Social Service Agencies in NY and NJ. ~ A lifelong Christian, I was ordained as a Presbyterian deacon in 1993 and, after relocating to SC in 2000, elected to become ordained as a non-denominational minister. ~ I established "MandysPath" Ministry in 2011. "MandysPath" Ministry is a member of Pacific Life Church, El Sobrante, CA, network of ministries. ~ I direct an outreach ministry in an alternative setting, providing spiritual care to a congregation of more than 500 people from around the world via the Internet. ~ As part of this outreach, I write a daily faith based blog. In March, 2012 I was asked to become a board member of Heroes For Children which is a non-profit foundation, established to assists the Guardian ad Litem program of Horry County, SC. Guardians ad Litem are a group of court appointed advocates who represent the best interests of children in Family Court proceedings involving allegations of abuse or neglect. Working closely with these men and women who make a difference in the lives of children, I completed training and have been sworn in to serve as a Guardian ad Litem for the state of South Carolina . ~ I have been married since 1975 to a wonderful man, Daniel. I have a son Daniel and his wife Melissa who live in NYC. My daughter Sabrina and my grandson Landon live here in SC. ~ My father Harold continues to share his wisdom with me and is responsible for many of the ideas I write about!

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