Happy St. Nicholas' Day! Oh, if you want to be technical, happy Second Sunday of Advent. But since December 6 is the traditional feast day of St. Nicholas, I'm sure we do no harm by remembering this great saint today.
As a small child, I always put one shoe outside my bedroom door on the evening of December 5, knowing that during the night St. Nicholas was going to fill my shoe with some candy or small treats, pointing ahead to the joys of Christmas. It was always so exciting to wake up early and peek outside the bedroom door to see what was inside the shoes we all lined up.
But while I don't remember much about those little treats, I do remember one St. Nicholas' Day very well. That year, there were four little shoes outside the door--if the youngest child's shoe was out there, which I don't remember (though he can probably tell us). In the early morning, much too early to wake up in time for school, my sister and I opened the door--and saw a slip of paper in each of our shoes.
What could it be? I was old enough to read, and so I picked up the little slip, which had one oddly-constructed, typewritten sentence on it. It read, "Instead of candy, a baby brother has been born today."
It was the most exciting thing! I couldn't wait to get to school and show my teacher--which I did, and she let me read the little note from Saint Nicholas out loud to our class. I don't know if any of my other siblings was disappointed about the candy, but I wasn't. Imagine having St. Nicholas take the time out of his busy night to let each of us children know that we had a new baby brother!
When I was old enough to understand, of course, that little note meant even more. :-)
So on this December 6, please join me in wishing that "baby brother," the child who became the middle child--number five of nine--a very happy birthday! He, his wife, and their two lovely children (the youngest of whom was just baptized over Thanksgiving weekend) are a great blessing to our extended family.
Happy birthday, "little" brother!