I awoke early this morning and came downstairs while everyone is still asleep. It is St. Nicholas Day, and I had to smile at the sight of two rather large teenage shoes — one from each child — sitting expectantly on the landing. The memories came rushing back.
We’re not German and I didn’t grow up celebrating St. Nicholas Day, but Candice loves a good holiday — especially one associated with a saint that could help counterbalance the commercialization of Christmas. So soon after the twins arrived we decided we’d celebrate St. Nicholas Day and it became a tradition.
The gifts are similar year to year. Candice always finds the gold coin chocolates. The gifts are modest. This year they include something for Claire’s hair and a “Bush countdown calendar” for our progressive teenage son. With St. Nicholas Day, the twins birthday, and Christmas all coming within a three week period, we have to be prudent on the gift buying front.
That’s what I like most about our St. Nicholas Day celebrations: the simple nature of the children’s expectations and the gratitude for small things. Each year there’s a wonder as to what St. Nicholas will bring. There’s a thankfulness for tradition – that we simply remembered to celebrate.
But of course Andrew and Claire aren’t children anymore. Last night at a holiday party, someone commented on the picture of the two of them in our recent A Year in Photos post. They look like young adults, and — in fact — that’s what they are. They live very busy lives and could just as easily have skipped right over St. Nicholas Day.
But the conversation before we all fell into bed last evening was about the safety of having St. Nicholas putting out chocolate while Lilly roamed the house during the night. How very far we’ve come, yet how near and dear they remain. Perhaps Madeleine L’Engle – the author of Andrew’s favorite book A Wrinkle in Time – was right. Perhaps we are always every age we’ve ever been. So when we’re 53 years old, we’re still 4 and we’re still 12 and we still love a childhood tradition.
More to come…