St. Nicholas Day. A day when my four little boys used to set out their shoes in a neat little row for St. Nicholas to fill with a special treat. Usually candy. Sometimes a trinket. Always appreciated. A precursor to Christmas.
My sons are 19-24 now and we continue to follow the long-established tradition. However, this year I gathered and lined up the shoes for jolly old St. Nick. Why do I still do it? Why does a friend of mine’s children receive so much that St. Nicholas’ treasures overflow shoes, requiring separate bags?
I think “St. Nicholas” just doesn’t want to let go of a heartwarming memory, doesn’t want to realize “his” children are growing up, wants to feel a little bit of magic.
Sometimes this adult life just isn’t too exciting. We grownups need to believe in magic, in make-believe, in happily-ever-after…somehow, anyway that we can. I forget that the place called Camelot is not real. The characters are so vivid to me, the story compelling. I know Dorothy really visited Oz. When I say I believe in Santa Claus it’s because I do. When I wish upon a star it is a serious matter.
And my birthday candles had better be placed strategically on my cake. I few years ago someone in this house decided I got too old to have all my candles represented, unbeknownst to me. I was not happy, but what could I do? Lit candles came at me; I blew them out. If I turn 100 I want 100 candles. Practical doesn’t matter to me. Neither do screeching smoke alarms.
I always place my children’s candles in a very blow-able formation. I want my sons to get their wishes. On my last birthday a girlfriend of one of my sons placed four candles (FYI – I am not 4) on my rectangular cake – one in each corner. As she walked the flaming confection to me I thought, “How in the heck am I ever going to blow those out?”
She will surely never forget what happened next. I started out fine, hit two down the one side, next turning my attention to #3, but #4 was laughing at me, mocking me, hiding my wish in the midst of its flame. I desperately wanted my wish. I desperately want all my wishes. A birthday wish comes but once a year. I emptied every ounce of my lungs as well as a good deal of spit. It was gross. Really gross. But I did it. And next year, when I turn 5, I’ll remember to suck in a bit more air to ensure my continued wish streak.
Generate some magic of your own this week, fellow Catholic moms. Show your children your whimsical side. Chances are they’re already seeing enough of your harried, frantic side as Christmas approaches. Remember, it’s better to decorate ugly Christmas cookies WITH your children than to decorate perfect ones ALONE. I learned that one the hard way many years ago.
Make the most of this magical season by believing in the magic.
Copyright 2009 Maureen Locher