As you can imagine, the rumors spread about him, and after his death, many Christians were inspired by him to continue the practice of anonymous giving. As the rumours spread, they began to be corrupted by pagan fantasys, and eventually his legend morphed into the myth we have today.
So here's my two cents. I think Nicholas, or at least his legend, was a shining example of Christ's Spirit in action in the Christian. We have been given to, the greatest Gift of all. Therefore, it behooves us to give, without grudging; doing our best to let God recieve all the glory. We understand more of God's heart the more we give. This story is far more beautiful to me for it's sweetness and humility than Santa. That's not to say that Santa Clause is the devil. I just think Christians needs to guard their focus, and many times the clown in the red suit is a distraction to us from the heart of God, which is love.
For us, the trappings of Christmas are all optional. We've celebrated Christmas on the road, without decorations, we've even celebrated without giving gifts to one another. (That's a separate post! I promise to tell that story; it's a good one.) We celebrate this truth, that we have eternal life, an unspeakable Gift that came at an unspeakable price from God Himself; that Christ is one of us, that He knows us, understands us, and loves us anyway, and that without sin, He is able to redeem us to the uttermost. As we are encouraged in Philippians 2:5, to "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" I think we ought to see others with more patience, be more willing to help others, and more willing to tell them of God's Gift. I think Nicholas had that one down!