We left Belgium 9 and a half years ago but yet, around the end of November, Michael began to ask, “When is Saint Nicolas coming?” “He comes to Belgian children on December 6, but I hardly think you count at this stage,” I replied. However, on December 5 all the shoes went out and were filled at about 11.30, by a chocolate Paddington and a miniature packet of Pringle’s crisps. Saint Nicolas’s helpers realised that there had been a terrible misunderstanding. Each thought the other was sorting Daniel. So, at 11.30, one went down to the Spar and bought Pringles. In the morning, Daniel said dolefully, that he had wanted a chocolate Santa. Herself, regarding the M&S Paddington dubiously said, “I’ll swap you for this, Saint Nicolas isn’t what he once was, it used to always be a Leonidas Santa.”
Who knows whether Saint Nicolas will visit us next year?
My mother tried to stop this tradition when my siblings and I got older, but my blessed father supported his (adult) children’s outcry, and it continues to this day (my youngest sibling is 33!). It’s mostly about the grandchildren now, though, which is entirely appropriate.
33! Good grief, Ellen, I am filled with fear.