Every child knows that candy and magical holiday creatures go hand in hand. The Easter bunny hides it under trees and in baskets, inside little plastic eggs and shiny foil marked in his own image. That Lucky Charms leprechaun is obsessed with reinventing the tiny marshmallow candies in his cereal, and whatever witches, ghosts, or mummies answer the door on Halloween basically shower you with the stuff.
So I was thrilled, if not surprised, to learn as a preschooler that Santa was no different. Picture me and an entire room full of my fellow four-year-olds being told that because it was December 6, all we had to do was put one shoe outside the doorway of our classroom and wait patiently, and St. Nicholas would hear our half-barefoot cries and reward them with candy! If we took a nap while we waited, we'd probably get an extra piece or two.
This kind of magic almost sounded too good to be true, but when you're four years old you tend to buy into whatever load of garbage is shoveled in front of you, so off half of our shoes went, lined in a neat little in the hallway.
And damned if St. Nicholas didn't make good on his word.
This holiday miracle, made all the more tantalizing because it eased the anticipatory ache for Christmas morning that had started cooking after the Thanksgiving turkey was cleared from the oven, was too special not to share with my dear parents, who deserved candy from St. Nicholas as much as anyone did. After all, had they not brought me into this world, I would not be alive to experience the joy of candy for myself! So that evening, when my parents picked me up from preschool, tired from long days of work and study, I bestowed upon them the happy knowledge that it was St. Nicholas day. I informed them that this trick would surely work at home as well as it had worked at school. As soon as we got home, we could each simply remove a shoe and wait for the magic to happen.
My parents were skeptical. They suggested that such miracles were only possible at school, where the holiday had been, you know, prepared for. But I found this theory laughable. No preparation was needed, only the temporary offering of a single shoe!
They countered that St. Nick had probably written them off because his all-seeing eyes would have spotted that they didn't keep candy in the house and would have assumed that they didn't like it. "COME ON YOU TWO, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH!" I politely implored. "Ol' SN is a great guy, he won't deny you just because you're old and on a diet!"
With a withering look to one another that my young eyes could only interpret as a suspension of disbelief, my parents agreed to try the magical ritual. Or at least Mom did. For some reason Dad suddenly had a "pressing errand" to attend to. St. Nick, I feared, would not look kindly on Dad's absence. But Dad said he'd put out a shoe when he returned, and then we'd give St. Nick a few more minutes to make with the miracles. Mom and I each removed a shoe and placed it outside the door to our apartment. Dad, understandably in a huge hurry to get back from his mystery errand, rushed out the door. He returned an agonizing 30 minutes later. I could have sworn I heard Nicholas at the door right before Dad slipped back inside, one foot socked and one foot shoed, but Dad assured me I was mistaken. He instructed me to be patient, St. Nicholas liked that in a kid.
Dad must have been right, because a little later, damned (again!) if St. Nicholas hadn't filled all three of our shoes: mine, Mom's, and even Dad's. What a great guy this Nick was! He filled my shoes twice in one day! What a miracle! What an amazing holiday!
Sometimes, in writing, people say that it's difficult to be honest. But I don't think that's true. I think honesty is easy...when you're writing for yourself. Sometimes, when I've written something that's just for me, I take a step back and say..."could this ever see the light of day?" The answer is often "god no," maybe because it's rambling and hard to understand, but more often because it contains little secrets or pieces of myself that I wouldn't want to put on display to the general public.
Yesterday, something that I initially wrote just for myself, to put feelings on paper, became my first-ever entry (as a "From Our Readers") submission on Hello Giggles. I had mixed feelings about sending this out into the ether, but I'm extremely happy I did. Honestly.