April Hartmann: The Values of Saint Nicholas

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of April Hartmann; author of “The Cure for the Christmas Crazies.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

April Hartmann, author & illustrator of "The Cure for the Christmas Crazies."

April Hartmann, author & illustrator of “The Cure for the Christmas Crazies.”

Sunday, December 6th, is the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas, one of the most beloved saints around the world. In research for my children’s book, The Cure for the Christmas Crazies, I found several stories to be most notable. His wealthy parents died when he was young, and he devoted his inheritance to helping the sick and the poor. During a period of persecution of the faithful, he was imprisoned. There have been many stories told of Saint Nicholas coming to the rescue of children.

For centuries Saint Nicholas has been admired as the friend and protector of those in need. It truly breaks my heart to see the way retailers misrepresent his identity as Santa Claus, shown pushing a shopping cart through a Kmart commercial. But I also love all the wonder and excitement that Santa Claus brings to the season. I’ll even dare to say that it’s good for children to believe in him. Whenever I’m pondering what it means to have faith, my own childhood memories of Santa Claus actually help me to recall what it was like to innocently “accept like a child,” as stated in Mark 10:15.

“Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

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The generosity of Saint Nicholas became the basis for the modern Santa Claus.

That being said, how can we celebrate the birth of our Lord without letting Santa Claus steal the show? This is part of what inspired my book. Of course we need to keep Christ at the center of all our holiday activities, but in addition to that, I think another solution is to honor the original Saint Nicholas and all he stood for. I wrote The Cure for the Christmas Crazies to do just that, plus help Santa Claus maintain his Christian roots.

When it comes to talking about the history of Saint Nicholas with children, they automatically associate him with Santa Claus in our culture. My book includes a brief history of the life of Saint Nicholas and how he is celebrated around the world, but doesn’t mention anything that would conflict with the legend of Santa Claus.

The story that follows portrays Santa Claus with the same faithful heart and generous spirit of Saint Nicholas. It also makes the point that Santa is forgiving. We all know that even “nice” children are “naughty” sometimes, but Santa brings gifts anyway. That’s a lesson in forgiveness that kids can easily understand.
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Letting kids see that Santa is forgiving doesn’t let them off the hook with their behavior, but rather helps
them appreciate and practice that same value. Just as being saved by grace doesn’t give us free reign to sin, but instead inspires us to let God’s goodness shine through us. I like this message much better than telling kids to be good to get lots of presents, which is basically teaching them to ask “what’s in it for me?”

As long as there is this association between Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus in our culture, I think it’s only fitting that we teach our children to perceive Santa as a Christian. To neglect this would be a disservice to children and to the true role model who dedicated his life to serving our Lord. My hope is to help children perceive Santa Claus as a Christian, whether they encounter him later in a secular book, on TV or in person.

In my book The Cure for the Christmas Crazies, Santa Claus encourages children to offer kindness to others as gifts to the baby Jesus. He has lots of other positive messages to help kids enjoy our modern traditions while keeping Christ at the heart of everything. All in all, the story is about embracing the way we celebrate, yet offering each task, each gathering, each light on the tree, as a gesture of thanks for the great gift of Christmas.

-WBP-

April Hartmann’s webpage is: http://www.ahcreations.com/#!books/cmnl and her book is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/christmascrazies

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us @WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.

2 Responses to “April Hartmann: The Values of Saint Nicholas”

  1. John Mapp says:

    Just ordered this for my grandson!

    • Thanks for the support John! If you are looking for a nice, glossy offset-printed version, they are available through my website AHcreations.com. I am also signing those copies and I can include a personal message to your grandson.

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