Real Santa cared for the desperate

Almost 1700 years ago, a rich bishop, in what is now modern-day Turkey, met a poor man who had three daughters.

The poor father could not afford for his daughters to get married, as he could not afford a dowry. Nor could he afford to feed his daughters in his own house - so he considered selling them into servitude.

The rich bishop, upon hearing this, snuck into the poor man's house one night and left a bag of money. The next night he returned and left another bag of money. Then, on the third night, the poor man found the rich bishop as he delivered a third bag - enough to keep all the man's daughters out of slavery.

Bicci di Lorenzos 1433-1435 painting depicting the story of Saint Nicholas providing the three women with gold dowries.

Bicci di Lorenzos 1433-1435 painting depicting the story of Saint Nicholas providing the three women with gold dowries.

Thus, the legend of St Nicholas was born with a man of wealth giving away what he owned, in secret, to those who most needed it.

In 2019, our modern Santa will instead deliver a brand-new PlayStation and motorbike to one house, while the children next door give thanks for the second-hand book that Santa scrounged up enough pennies to buy.

In 2019, many of us will sit at banquet tables with our loved ones, while our friend spends Christmas day wrapped in a doona, shedding tears for their loved ones, no longer here.

In 2019, some of us will curl up at night watching Christmas love stories on the telly, while down the road a woman flees the hand of a husband who has imbued too much 'Christmas spirit' this year.

I love Christmas, but I acknowledge that for many people it is hell - as it was for a small child, born nearly 2000 years ago, whose family fled as refugees to Egypt before violent slaughter.

So, if Christmas suffering is your story too, please know you are not alone.

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