I told the story of St. Nicholas the night before so the kids would leave out their shoes. If you don't know about St. Nicholas and the traditions surrounding him here is a brief synopsis.
The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.
In several countries around the world children leave their shoes out and their shoes are filled with treats in the morning so we filled the kids shoes with a little toy, an orange, and chocolate coins. Autry received a little flashlight, Claire a little unicorn, and Addie a little bunny.
Around 10 we headed over to a new friend from Southwest's house and we made Christmas cookies. Since we first came to Southwest Bible Church Autry has become friends with a boy named Micah. Their friendship has been such a blessing to me. Leaving our last church was so difficult for us , leaving our friends and community has been the hardest of all, but from the beginning seeing Autry form this friendship with this little boy made me feel hopeful. I do feel hopeful now of starting over in a new community and thankful for the new friendships we have and the new friendships that will continue to form.