You would expect vicars to not be particularly fond of Father Christmas; the folklore of Santa and the gifts he brings is somewhat of a thief of the glory that should really belong to Jesus after all.
However, St Nicholas is more than a rotund figure with a voluminous silver beard. Saint Nicholas was a bishop who looked out for the destitute and took care of them when he could. Noticing a family whose daughters were facing a life on the streets, he secretly threw some money into their home in the dead of night to pay for their dowry; some of which may or may not have fallen into shoes and stockings.
St Nicholas, far from being the guardian of gifts who only bestows them upon those who have been “good enough”, was himself “defrocked” for punching a fellow bishop who liked to sing heretical songs.
So, yes, I have a “thing” for “jolly ol’ St Nick” who used his wealth to rescue destitute girls, and his muscularity to silence heresy. St Nicholas is of course the patron saint of children, and he cuts quite a father figure. Not a slightly dodgy old man who creeps into bedrooms and watches while you sleep, not a judgemental grumpy old git who is only interested in those who behave themselves, and certainly not a simpering saint who is ready to keep the peace at the cost of truth. Strong, ethical, generous and kind, this is my kind of man. Happy Christmas everyone!
Vanessa is an ordained priest in the Church of England, serving in a team of seven churches in rural Hampshire. She currently shares the rectory with her husband, two daughters and two cats. Vanessa blogs at www.nothinglikeadane.wordpress.com and you can follow her at www.facebook.com/thewallopingvicar or @wallopingvicar