Don't forget to put your shoes out tonight! You do, don't you?
A few years ago I posted this in defense of St. Nicholas Day:
There are only a few precious years of life when we are capable of such wonder and awe. It seems cruel to deny the children the experiences that bring this out, and frankly, I think we adults benefit from seeing the sparkle in their eyes and the fullness of their trusting hearts.
We do read "The Real Santa Claus" book and make sure they know about the very real saint and the miracles attributed to him. We don't use the term "Santa" even though he takes on some Santa-like attributes when he "visits" our home. The kids realized somewhere along the way that this is a pretend game we play, but it doesn't make it any less fun! Couple these beloved family traditions with the opportunity to teach the little siblings about St. Nicholas and the older ones have more fun than ever.
Last night while I was resting on the sofa I overheard my eldest girl helping her 4yo sister write her letter to St. Nicholas. It was about the most precious thing I have ever heard in my mothering life. No one asked her to do this, the older ones took the initiative to "be in on the secret" and get their letters and shoes ready. Everyone had fun this morning finding the goodies in their shoes, but the sparkle in the 4yo's eyes was the best gift of all - to everyone!
The kids here at Pinewood Castle put a show by the front door along with their letter to St. Nicholas. The next morning they find clementines, candy canes, and chocolate coins.
Here is a sampling of the types of lettters they write:
Dear St. Nicholas,
I have tride my best to be good. Plese pray for my family. My shoue is the black one. I want to share and give like you did. Plese help me. Nice Cristmass!
Dear St. Nicholas,
What is it like to ride a horse at night? I have a lot of candy, so please don't give me that much. I would like a doll for Chismas and maybe a big stuffed animal too. My brother really wants a train set. And I don't mide what else I get for Chismas. I wish I can see you, you must be Jolly. I think your cute. Is it pitch dark at night? P.S. Please write back.
And sometimes St. Nick even writes back.
I am coming around to check in with all the good children on my list to see what amusing toys and things they might want for Christmas this year. The toy orders must be placed very soon so the elves in my workshop have time to finish everything before I return on Christmas Eve.
I see from your letters that you have tried to be good this year, but I know that is easier for some of you than for others. Try very hard now, these last weeks of advent or Black Peter will have to come in my place and leave a lump of coal in your stocking.
Now, a word about your gifts today:
The clementines and chocolate coins in your shoe are to remind you of the gold I threw through the window to the maidens to provide the dowry money that kept them from being sold into slavery.
The candy cane is one of my symbols. All bishops carry staffs, hooked at the top like a shepherd's crook, showing they are the shepherds who care for, or tend, their people.
Do you know why I come while you are sleeping? I do my gift giving secretly, under cover of darkness. I don't want to be seen and recognized because I want you to give thanks to God for all of your many blessings, and believe me, you are blessed. So be good now and I will be back in time to celebrate Christ's birth.
Check out the St. Nicholas Center for more ideas!