Allow me to be the first to wish you a Happy Saint Nicholas Day.
This holiday isn’t as prevalent in the United States as it is in Europe, so if you didn’t execute one of the key St. Nicholas Eve rituals last night, you’re not alone. There’s always next year.
There’s also a first time to hear about Saint Nicholas. And, depending upon the version of history or folklore you read (some of which can be a little frightening), you likely will remember next year.
The first Saint Nicholas Day I recall was memorable because it sent my mother and me into a tailspin, oh so long ago.
My two younger brothers, around ages four and six, attended a Rudolf Steiner school run by German teachers and staff. Late one December night, my brothers had been put to bed and, just before lights out, they both jumped up, grabbed shoes from their closet and ran down the stairs and out the front door. My mother followed them and asked what in the world they were doing.
“Mrs. Schiffer said that if we put our shoes outside before we go to bed tonight, Saint Nicholas will come and fill them with cookies.”
In a fit of panic, I shepherded the boys upstairs and back into bed while my mother made tracks to 7-Eleven in what surely was the fastest trip ever made in a 1972 pea green Dodge station wagon. Keebler elves saved the day.
And that’s what Saint Nicholas Day means to me.
That and it’s the birthday of my one and only child. Happy Birthday, Joe. I hope you got lots of cookies.