Last week, I was thinking about how the adoption process is very similar to putting together a puzzle. It begins with the framework - the finding, the praying, the committing, the paperwork, the homestudy. Once the frame is complete, there are several different sections that branch from that frame that in the end produce a beautiful and complete picture. Included in those sections are praying without ceasing, submitting your application to USCIS, preparing the dossier, fundraising, waiting, waiting, waiting, making travel arrangements, traveling, meeting that precious life you have prayed and prepared for, court hearings, more waiting and more paper chasing, and finally bringing that precious life home. Each section has its own challenges. Some are easier to complete than others, some seem impossible to figure out but once you get into it, they seem to be much easier than you thought, and some look easier than they really are. Some take a lot of patience, some take a lot of wisdom, some take several attempts, and some require the ability to see what cannot be seen (Hebrews 11:1). Sometimes, you can work on several sections at a time, other times, you can complete one section all in one sitting. And after all that time you spent putting it together, it is so incredibly rewarding to see that completed picture, to place that very last piece into the puzzle.
Fittingly enough, this puzzle includes St. Nicholas-the man who became an orphan at a very young age and was raised by his uncle. He became a man, who would follow God's command to be the father to the fatherless and widows, to care for the least of these, to sell all of what he had and give it to the poor. The true meaning of what St. Nicholas did is really inspiring. For those of us going through adoption and those of us that aren't, it is a story worth remembering and sharing with our children.
In Germany and many other places (including Vika's country), St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th or 19th (according to the Julian Orthodox calendar) - the day of St. Nicholas' death. We celebrate it by putting our shoes outside of our front doors on the evening of December 5th and discovering shoes filled with fruit, candy, and small gifts the next morning. I know that on more than one occasion during my childhood our shoes were filled by people, who followed God's command to do the same as St. Nicholas did more than 1700 years ago. I think it is wonderful to separate St. Nicholas Day from Christmas because in many cases he has become a replacement for Jesus - the real meaning of Christmas. Although we know many Christian families who celebrate Santa Claus as a part of Christmas and do it beautifully so, I know that for our family, we will celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6th for many reasons - mostly beautiful childhood memories. You can read about the traditions of St. Nicholas in different countries and his story here.
I know this post is a little out of place, because we just passed Christmas and by the time Christmas comes again, this story might be long forgotten, but I had to share it anyway. :) Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Thank you Mom for ALWAYS making Christmas special!!!