This was the feast of St. Nicholas when we almost didn't have chocolate coins.
I had made it to the drug store and the grocery story earlier in the week to buy the various chocolate Santas, oranges, candy canes, gingerbread cookie mix . . . but both stores were out of chocolate coins. I figure it was a-okay because the children would be receiving so many sweets.
But the day before the big morning, each child approached me independently, so excited about the next day, and said, "One thing I know for sure . . . there will be gold chocolate coins!" My little heart sank in my very tired and overwhelmed body as I wondered what to do because 'dashing out for an errand' when one has four kids is something that just doesn't happen.
After dinner, I pulled Chris and aside and whispered, "I'll trade you the entire bedtime routine which I'll do myself if you'll drive to as many stores as you need until you find gold coins!" It was a pretty good trade and he went on his mission!
I baked the cookies. I converted the chocolate Santas to little Bishop Nicholases, and I put out the oranges, coins, holy cards, and gifts.
The children were so excited to bustle down in the morning to find all the traditional symbols in their shoes . . . most especially the chocolate coins!
|Wearing the cozy robes they received--I love those clearance Black Friday sales online just in time before this feast day!|
After opening gifts, I read a book about St. Nicholas to the children. This particular book mentions the story (possibly true, possibly legend, we often don't know exact details about these ancient saints) of when the saint resurrected three murdered children. I was reading along . . .
"A wicked innkeeper kidnapped three little boys, killed them, and salted them in a tube of brine . . ." and then I skipped the end of the sentence that read, "intending to serve them as food." It was so gruesome!"
Mary (5) interrupted me. "What? Why would he salt them in brine?"
Mama: "Ummmm . . . "
Mary: "That doesn't make sense unless he was going to eat them."
Mama (momentarily dumbfounded): "Well, you're too smart. Yes, that was why he salted them. It says here he intended to serve them as food. But let's keep reading! St. Nicholas saved the children and raised them back to life!"
So I finished the lengthy book telling of all the miracles associated with St. Nicholas. The book concluded:
"Throughout the world today, whether he goes by the name of St. Nicholas, Sinter Klaas, or Santa Claus, this figure who shows enormous generosity, a love of children, deep care for the poor and needy, and a completely selfless nature is considere to embody the spirit of Christmas and the true spirit of the Lord."
John: "And of not eating children."
After all that talk of eating children, it was time to eat our breakfast! I had laid it out the night before for dramatic effect upon entering the kitchen.
Margaret (2) sidled up to the cookies and kept asking, "How did these get here?! How did these get here?!" It was so poignant to be reminded of the magic of childhood: that she couldn't even comprehend that her parents stay awake after her eyes shut and that her Mama could even bake cookies at night.
After an abbreviated morning of Friday's chores, school time, and watching the CCC video about St. Nicholas, we went to the Friday afternoon homeschool co-op (art class and chess class).
Then the homeschooling children joined the parish elementary school for our very own pastor dressed up as St. Nicholas reading a story book to the children. While the children were listening to the story, candy was being put in their shoes they had left out in the hallway.
Then the school children returned to their classrooms and the homeschooled children returned to the classroom we borrow on Fridays so we could have our own festive party. So much sugar! It was grand.
This is one of the most darling feast days of the year!