Santa arrived at our local shopping centre last weekend. He seems to get there earlier every year! Part of our family history will be looking back over the Christmas photos with Santa. It’s a tradition to sit down with him and get a picture every year since our girls have been born. Of course I have many a photo of them looking like they would rather not be anywhere near the jolly old man with the white beard but we keep going. I love looking through all the photos every year and putting them up. I know they will love it too when they get older. Santa will be part of their fond memories of Christmas eventually.
I saw an ad recently about Santa’s genealogy. I was intrigued but was puzzled to see that Santa or Saint Nick was a bishop and never married. He was an only child and his parents died when he was young. He was raised by his uncle, also called Nicholas and they both were bishops. So no family has descended from them. But I though about what role do descendants play in family history? For your memory to live on and for the good work that you do to live on. Well Saint Nicholas surely has those things without any descendants. We still remember Saint Nick, although his feast day was the 6th December and has been bumped up to the 25th December in line with Christmas day. His spreading of his wealth that he inherited became part of the Christmas tradition. (Saint Nicholas heard about a father that had no dowry for his daughters, so he tossed gold coins down the chimney and they fell into the stockings that the girls were drying by the chimney.) His work with children and the poor made him a saint. I don’t think that Saint Nicholas needed a line of descendants to continue his good work and keep his memory alive. He was an exceptional person that started a legacy.
I have found in family histories, that you can find the facts of person’s life relatively easily with certificates. But it is those that have given to others through going to war, their work in churches, work in the community that have a story. It’s those people that go into history. I have recently done a genealogy for a family member and her direct descendant I had only a few details for, but his sister Mary Mclean I found reams of information. Mary Mclean was the first Australian born Presbyterian missionary who travelled to India in 1891. Numerous books have the details of her life, right down to how much she was paid. There is a plaque in the Presbyterian church in Berry in memory of her work in the church there. I have yet to contact the church for the journals that many missionary women like Mary wrote in for the church goers back home. She was truly an amazing woman for all the hard work she must have gone through and is well remembered. Like Saint Nicholas, Mary never married or had children but her legacy still lives on through the mission schools established in India.
So for me visiting Santa every year is a chance to continue with the legacy that Saint Nicholas left behind. It’s also a chance for my children to met with a person that is the embodiment of being selfless and caring. Someone that is real that represents all the good in the world through gift giving, a kind heart, and belief in anything being possible. Saint Nicholas or Santa should be remembered every year and don’t forget that “if you don’t believe, you don’t receive.” Give Santa a wave and a smile when you see him, it brings Christmas cheer.