As the More is More Mom, I’m all about … more Saint Nick! Christmas is such a magical time of the year—full of faith and folklore. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of decorating Christmas cookies, and checking off my Christmas shopping list. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I am a shopping “lifer.” By the time I was in fifth grade, I was a babysitter extraordinaire and earning lots of cash. Beaming with pride, I would take my LeSportsac purse—stuffed with fives, tens, and the occasional twenty—to do a little Christmas shopping for my family. By plane, train, or automobile (actually, via the bus or the L) I would hit my favorite haunts: Water Tower, the Century Mall, or Six Corners (at Irving/Milwaukee/Cicero) with my little brother, Ray, in tow.
Growing up, we always anxiously awaited the arrival of Christmas. We poured through the Sears Wish Book over and over again. It was like the Christmas gift-list bible. Pages were dog-eared with coveted toys, clothes, and accessories (okay, my brother was really the only one who wanted the toys). We circled and starred our favorite items with bold exclamation points. Christmas morning was always so exciting! We would take turns opening our presents, but always saving the best for last—our Christmas stockings!
When my son, Nick, was in kindergarten at Our Lady of Perpetual Donations, we learned about a tradition that was new to us: celebrating the feast day of Saint Nicholas on December 6. What’s not to like? The evening of December 5, rather than neatly putting away their shoes like they normally do (not “Ho, Ho, Ho” but “Ha, Ha, Ha”), the children leave out their shoes for Saint Nicholas to fill with treats and trinkets. As a devoted special maker and shopper, this was a celebration that I could totally get behind!
At our house, Saint Nicholas stuffs Nick’s and Amanda’s shoes with little treasures. First thing in the morning, they would race down the stairs—delighted by the magic and wonder of it all. There would be chocolate, gold foil coins, Christmas ornaments, wind-up toys, Christmas movies, stuffed animals, action figures, and more. As they’ve gotten older, Saint Nick brings CDs, DVDs, iTunes gift cards, chocolates, and Amanda gets girly accessories like headbands and earrings.
Last night, after we took Wrigley for a hot lap around the neighborhood and we started to head up to bed, I wondered if I should call the kids back down to leave their shoes out for Saint Nicholas. Chuck said, “Give me a break. Nick is eighteen. I think Saint Nick can just leave their presents on the kitchen counter.” He had barely uttered the words “kitchen counter” when the kids came flying down the stairs, Amanda leading the charge. She exclaimed, “We almost forgot to leave out our shoes for Saint Nick!”
Apparently you’re never too old, or too cool, to just be a kid at heart!