We decided to do something a little different this holiday season by celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6th! If you google St. Nick’s day, you’ll quickly find all kinds of information about celebrations around the world during which families commemorate the historical figure of St. Nick. As we learned about the kind man who gave anonymous gifts to those who needed it the most, we started to understand the background behind Santa and why he's associated with presents. Also, we watched the Veggie Tales “Story of St. Nick” dvd. Those vegetables should be given the task of explaining all of life’s mysteries to me because I just get them. And in case we needed final convincing that St. Nick’s day deserved our attention, two of the most influential families in our world, the Taylors and the Huddles told us about their St. Nick’s traditions. Both families are awesome. Both celebrate St. Nick’s day. Coincidence? We think not. (I realize I’ve done a horrible job myself of selling St. Nick’s day in this short paragraph. I suppose I’ll have to let google and Larry the cucumber make up for where I am lacking.)
We’ve long felt the tension between proclaiming Jesus as the reason for the season, and yet still following the culture in terms of the presentspresentspresents focus on Christmas day. We have been impressed by the historicity of the story of St. Nick and have appreciated being able to redeem “Santa” and answer the pressing question, “WHY DO WE PUT PRESENTS IN OVERSIZED SOCKS!?!” (Knowing the answer to that question right there made the search for St. Nick totally worth it.)
We have also watched our siblings and friends struggle with wanting to preserve holiday time for their nuclear family and still be a part of extended family gatherings. Shifting the “family time” off of Christmas day and onto St. Nick’s day seems to alleviate a lot of that pressure.
But most importantly for us right now, Christmas day is still about community outreach! We had a full day planned last year and are looking to do the same this year. It was nice to be able to give presents to each other and decorate the house without having to hurry up and go start a program in the village.
And that’s exactly what we did! First of all, can I just share the comparison pics right here – last year vs. this year. Look. At. This. Baby. I can’t even process the metamorphosis that is clearly happing in my child on a daily basis. I practically had to super glue that bow to her head last year. And now? She looks 20. I am not emotionally handling this well.
|not yet 2 going on 20|
Grandma sent presents with the last team that came over. (TSA, bless their hearts, made it possible for Jeremy and I to advance peek into every one before Bronwyn ripped them open.) These are grandma and grandpa’s presents to Bronwyn and one present from mom and dad. I’ll let you guess which ones came from America and which one was wrapped in the bush.
You guessed right. Very clever.
I know I said this last year, but I’ll say it again that IT IS SO MUCH FUN WATCHING KIDS OPEN PRESENTS! Bronwyn was so animated as she read every book individually and chased that crazy orange cat and scribbled on the magnadoodle and beat her drum. And Jeremy and I loved it as much as she did. We talked about what gifts we’ve received this year and who we should give gifts to, helping them out the same way St. Nick did.
We then took some time to decorate the farm house for Jesus' birthday, which included sifting through a small box of totally random Christmas decorations and haphazardly stringing garland around Melvin the giraffe’s neck. Also, this decorating time started running into nap time which was signaled to us my the incessant gnawing on the Christmas tree and eventual meltdown. No worries though, because it was still a fun day and we look forward too doing our family present swap this way every year.
|Thats the x-mass tree in her mouth. No need to|
comment on my garland draping expertise.
This artful pic is clearly pinable.
We found out a little too late that our Congolese friends have had wonderful experiences with St. Nicholas’ day. In Lubumbashi, DRC, where these friends are from, the people of the city go all out in terms of giving anonymous gifts to people including chucking small presents at people from around corners and hurling candy out of cars with blacked out windows. I heard about this and immediately said, “JEREMY, we are doing this next year!” And then he reminded me that blacking out the windows on the land rover doesn’t really provide anonymity considering we have the most recognizable vehicle in a 50 kilometer radius. Oh well. I still want to throw candy at kids out of a moving vehicle, even if they know its me. Anyway, now that we have some partners in festive crime, we are gathering all kinds of ideas as to how to make St. Nick’s day even more fun next year!
What about you? Any other St. Nick celebrants out there? What St. Nick traditions do you enjoy? How do your families tackle the “presents” obsession surrounding Jesus’ birthday?