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The Truth About Saint Nicholas

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

Do you believe in Santa Claus? By the time many people think they are too old to believe in Santa Claus, they have unwittingly come to believe in another one—a figurative Santa Claus that goes by the name of “welfare state,” or “big government.” But Santa would be insulted by the comparison.

The real Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop who used his own inheritance to anonymously alleviate the suffering of those less fortunate than he, particularly children and poor women. This reputation led to his being associated with giving surprise gifts at Christmas.

The mystique of Santa Claus is all about giving, not entitlement. Santa Claus is about the magic of the serendipitous, the unexpected miracle, the abundance of goodness unleashed in the world when we choose generosity and compassion over selfishness and entitlement.

Santa isn’t about getting; he’s about giving. And when we take it upon ourselves as family members, neighbors and citizens to give a hand to those around us, we’ll be less tempted to pass our responsibilities onto the government or expect it to solve all our problems. And we’ll be less likely to think only about what we can get—from our family, our neighbors or the state.

Kathryn Hickok is Cascade Policy Institute‘s Publications Director and Development Coordinator, and Director of The Children’s Scholarship Fund–Portland.

© 2007, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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