Last night, the girls each put out a shoe for St. Nicholas to fill with sweets and treats, as is the custom of this holiday. This year, I suggested they use traditional wooden shoes and offered an authentic pair my grandfather brought home from Europe during his time in World War II. My eldest loved the idea, but my little one balked and insisted on her scuffed up old "tennis sneaker." Seeing it as an opportunity to practice letting go (an ongoing theme for me), I obliged.
Sometime during the night, St. Nicholas visited our home, filling their shoes just as they hoped he would. They each received an orange to remind them they can be like the sun, giving their love to everyone; and nuts to remind them to be loving and kind (as shared in Natale's stories). They also received chocolate coins and sugar cookies, like those Nicholas carried in his pockets for the children he met. A well-crafted ornament is always in their shoes as well. And this year, St. Nicholas left each a book.
As part of our St. Nicholas day tradition, we will "adopt" a child in need from a local charity and help to make their holiday wishes come true. We'll shop together, as a family, for clothes and toys to fulfill the child's list, then donate them anonymously. This year, I've also encouraged each girl to do a kindly deed for someone else, or give someone a gift that they come up with on their own. After all, it can be just as much fun to give as to receive!