Why do we get such a thrill out of leaving gifts from "Santa"? I think it's because we all love the mysterious. We love passing on this tradition of secret gift-giving to our children. Although our natural bent is to figure everything out. But there's that little part of us that wants some things left unanswered.
As our boys grew, we knew the day would come when we needed to explain if Santa was "real" or not. This has never been a debate in our home. Of course he is real! I sat the boys down one morning after they inquired and told them the history of of a third century Christian Bishop with a heart of gold. The generosity of Saint Nicholas, born in Turkey, was possible because of his wealthy parents. When they died, he was left with a large inheritance. He loved to share gifts in secret to those in need. But we don't need to be wealthy to give gifts. We can also give the gift of our time wrapped in love.
Saint Nicholas was also a man of deep faith. During the persecution of Christians by Roman Emperor Diocletian, he was exiled and imprisoned, along with thousands of other Christians. By God's mercy, he survived the persecution. "Santa" inspired many then, and continues to do so with the tradition of giving gifts in secret.
God is the ultimate good gift-giver. He allowed His most valued possession, His Son Jesus, to depart from heaven through time and space and become a man on earth. He would know what fleshly pain is to prove His love for us. Many people did not recognize Him as God's gift. Still today, many don't know Him. He is a mystery. They have not unwrapped the Gift.
We can represent Jesus during this Christmas season with our gifts of love and time, not just physical gifts. We can also "play Santa" by leaving anonymous gifts on a lonely neighbor's porch, a widow, a single mom or someone going through a difficulty. It will give them encouragement, joy and hope. A gift of mystery stirs hope in our hearts. Whether it's for our children or someone in need, sharing love in secret is a thrill for the giver, as well as the receiver.