A Simpler Christmas -St. Nicholas Day

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This year we changed our tradition a bit around Santa. I love the imagination of the story, I think that remembering someone who was generous, and being reminded to be generous is a great thing, but I feel a bit like the story just totally takes over the holiday. Since my husband's father is Dutch, where they celebrate St. Nicholas day by putting out their shoes for St. Nicholas, and my Grandfather and now little cousins are Swiss, where Santa comes and delivers a toy visiting the child's house and greeting them, we thought we'd try a tradition of our own on Dec. 6th. A friend of mine whose family lived in Germany, said as a child they continued their tradition after coming back to Canada, and  it made sense for them because they believed that it was sort of like a subscription that you had to sign up for, and that is why their other Canadian friends didn't receive presents on that day. 

So how did we talk to the kids about it? Well, we've already told the kids from the beginning, "Santa is a game we love to play." I think they might slowly start to wonder if it's only a game while continuing to play it, but the fact is, that people everywhere are playing this game and having a fun time doing it- as simple as that. We talked to the kids about St. Nicholas and who he was and that this is a day for remembering his generosity. So, framed by this Santa is a game we all play, we continued on to say that we were thinking of taking part in St. Nicholas Day, and asking to be on Santa's early list, like our cousins in Switzerland, and other European children are, and what did they think of that, that Mom and Dad were still deciding. They seemed to think it made sense. We told them that since Santa knows we are very excited about celebrating Jesus' birthday, that he would want us to focus on Jesus, and that that's more important. The kids fully agreed.

When the time came, we set out shoes with the kids, and they decided to put them on their beds. They awoke to toys and candies by their shoes and the Santa cookies eaten up. Yes, they ate candy and headed off to school, and were probably too hyper!

What happened after St. Nicholas Day was the best part though. The kids knew that after that, the presents would all be from people they loved. On Astra's last day of school we set out presents in boxes, most of them wrapped, and let the kids wrap presents for each other, or decorate tags for the ones we'd wrapped. The kids weren't in a frenzy about Santa. They seemed calm and secure, and the focus was on us and talking about Jesus. It felt quiet and loving. When we volunteered at our church on Christmas Eve and then stood singing Silent Night, our traditional last song of the night, we were filled with deep calm.

We hung the stockings after the kids were in bed, our actual stockings, and cleaned up the house.

On Christmas morning the kids were excited to see the stockings and looked for what we put in them, thanking us. It was so nice to receive credit for all our hard work! 

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Our best photo of the three kids together!

Our best photo of the three kids together!

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Christmas Eve Chinese food with our adopted neighbour family. Mom and other daughter had the flu, so they stayed home.

Christmas Eve Chinese food with our adopted neighbour family. Mom and other daughter had the flu, so they stayed home.

Christmas Day! Everybody feeling better! They brought over a delicious Turkey.

Christmas Day! Everybody feeling better! They brought over a delicious Turkey.

Serving up Apple Cider.

Serving up Apple Cider.

Astra was so excited to get a harmonica!

Astra was so excited to get a harmonica!

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I had to add these cute photos from Willem's Preschool Winter Party, with a visit from Santa!

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