In college I formed a beautiful friendship with a fellow Catholic whom I still love to pieces. She is my dear friend, M, who is now the godmother of little A. Somehow or another we were talking, one day, about Christmas traditions. She mentioned that her family always celebrated St. Nicholas Day as part of their Advent preparations. My family certainly celebrated Advent and a truly Catholic Christmas, but never St. Nicholas Day. I knew who the real St. Nicholas was, but we never celebrated his feast day as children.
I was inspired by her fond memories of that celebration. In my mind, I resolved to celebrate it--somehow--when I had my own children. It is so important to me that our Christmases be truly Christ-centered, so when we think of Santa Claus, I want A to understand that the reason we receive gifts on Christmas is that it is a reminder that Christ is God's gift to us.
I am pleased to report that I have begun to follow through on that resolve as of this year. Having done a little research into the various traditions of St. Nicholas Day, I decided on the following tradition as the way we would celebrate it:
First, on the eve of St. Nicolas Day, little A wrote a letter to the Christ Child (well this year, I wrote it with her help).
Then, we put the letter in her shoe...
...and prayed, asking St. Nicholas to intercede for us, and take our letter to the Christ Child in Heaven.
Then we went to bed and waited for St. Nicholas to come and get it.
When we woke up on St. Nicholas Day, we saw that he has left us a small gift in place of the letter.
I hope A will love this tradition as much as I already do.