Holiday Traditions – St. Nick’s Day

One of my favorite traditions is St. Nick’s Day. The tradition of St. Nick’s Day began weeks prior to the actual celebrated day on December 6th. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, my childhood Church pinned slips of paper with requests from children who resided in our local homeless shelter on a beautiful fir tree. Per request of our mother, my brother, sister, and I would choose a slip of paper.

The weeks following, I saved every penny and even treasured dollars gleefully plopping the coins into my savings jar. Completely dazed by the idea that I would purchase a gift for another, I recall that I thought it would be best if my mom purchased the gift requested on the slip of paper, and that if I was to save my money that it would be best that I spend that money on a gift for myself.

On December 5th, St. Nick’s Eve, my mom gathered all three of us kids into our “ravishing” weathered blue Subaru only to awkwardly bump and roll down the few streets in our village to the mall. Excitedly, we hopped out of the car, slamming the door onto our overstretched seat buckles, and sprinted into the mall, where we headed straight for the toy section in Sears. Our eyes glazed with wonderment as to how the newest Barbie Doll spun or how the skittle ball hopped so effortlessly on the ground, finally after careful selection, we dug deep into our pockets, piling coins and crumpled dollar bills onto the checkout counter. With our eyes still glued to these new presents, my mom would proudly remind not only us, but it seemed like the entire store that the homeless children would be so happy with our gift choices and a warning “now remember you will wrap these wonderful gifts and place them under the Church’s Christmas Tree tomorrow for St. Nick’s Day.”

Confused and full of many “buts…”, we snatched our purchases and grudgingly headed to our beat up rusted Subaru, fighting over the front seat, and tossing our once prized toys into the car’s oversized trunk. Upon arriving home, we quickly forgot our gifts, strewn across the Subaru’s massive back trunk and raced to the front door, fighting, giggling, and annoying each other as we struggled to be the first one to push open our house door.
Later that night, we would sit with our mom and wrap the gifts. I loved picking out ribbons and wrapping paper for our special gifts. Being giddy and quite satisfied with our wrapping jobs, we ran upstairs and got ready for bed as fast as we could because we knew that the next day would be St. Nick’s Day.

Early St. Nick’s Day Morning, I would awake and leap out of bed. Outside my bedroom door, lay a long wooden clog supposedly filled with goodies! I just had to see if it was true. I would swing open my door with such a force that it would bounce into the door stopper and charge back at me. Stopping it with my foot, I would tiptoe out, being the first one awake I needed to make sure that I had the same amount of chocolate and goodies as my brother and sister. Then I would excitedly burst out, “HE CAME! WAKE-UP” Turning on all the lights, I would now take the time to fully assess my clog. How is it that St. Nick can fit so much in the clog? Did he take the clog dimensions down? How did he know that my favorite chocolate is fairy food and chocolate covered graham crackers? He sure outdid himself every year. I don’t know if I necessarily deserved it, but, boy, was I thankful!

My mom just loved seeing our happy faces as we danced around our rooms with our clogs singing I love you St. Nick. We would show off our candy to each other, each claiming that St. Nick was the best and each questioning how he knew which candy was our favorite?

Later on, after a delicious breakfast of pancakes and lemon syrup, we all packed into our Subaru to head to church. The beautiful Church pane-glass gleamed as we stepped inside and seated ourselves at a pew. For about an hour we would pray to our Heavenly Father to bless our family members, teachers, best friends, and whoever else popped into our minds as we quietly sat there, squinting, trying to remember each and every name. Finally, my mom would say now it is time to place your present under the Church’s Christmas Tree. Each of us would stand up, grateful to give our knees rest, and walk down the aisles toward the large Fir Tree near our Church’s Altar. Very, very slowly, I would place the gift. It was hard to give away a gift that I had worked so hard to save for, but when I placed it under the tree, I felt relieved.

My gift stood with others, some wrapped in beautiful wrapping paper, others merely wrapped in tissue paper, and even though, I never met any of my gift recipients, I always felt like deep down that I knew the young child who was receiving the gift. Of course! It was a special girl just as pretty as me and just as excited to receive a spinning Barbie doll as I would be on Christmas Day.