T is for Tradition


Saturday was St. Nicholas Day.

The Parsons celebrate St. Nicholas Day.

In recent years, our tradition has fallen by the wayside; with all of us scattered (well, okay, currently it’s just ME who is scattered – I’m the rogue), and Jeremy and Ashley having their own family and building their own traditions, and everyone just being generally busy, it’s been hard to celebrate together on December 6. But as a child, we opened our stockings on December 6.

First, Ma & Pa would gather us around and tell us the true story of Saint Nicholas, the Turkish bishop known for his secret gift-giving. According to lore (one of my favorite words, by the way), jolly old Saint Nick met a man who could not afford a dowry for his three daughters – which would assure a life of singleness (and thus, prostitution) for each of them. Late one night, Nicholas crept up to their open window, and tossed in three purses – enough gold to pay a dowry for each girl.

Other stories feature Nicholas anonymously providing children with food and money, typically deposited in their shoes which were left outside their front doors each night.

Our stockings always held the same things: (chocolate) gold coins, an orange, a pair of socks or tights, and usually a small treasure. Once, I got a tiny Pound Puppy, and I thought it was the greatest gift of all time. As I got older, I would find a yummy-smelling lotion or some lip gloss or nail polish.

At some point in history, Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus became synonymous – but my parents always distinguished between the two, making sure that we knew that Saint Nicholas was a real man – a generous man who helped people – and the Santa Claus we saw in the mall was “just a guy in a costume.” I never, ever believed in Santa Claus. But I always knew about Saint Nicholas.

If I get married and have kids someday, this is a tradition that I want to continue. And if I don’t well.

I’m thankful that I won’t be forced into a life of prostitution.


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  1. Mary on December 8, 2008 at 10:24 AM

    I love this story! And I’ve been to Demre, the town in Turkey from which the “lore” originates. It’s odd to see street vendors selling miniture Santas alongside evil eyes.

  2. Anonymous on December 8, 2008 at 10:30 AM

    Wow – Annie, thanks for remembering and appreciating what we did. Dad came upstairs last night with the St Nick banner, and I told him “it’s too late”…but he hung it anyway.

  3. Case and Los on December 8, 2008 at 11:09 AM

    Love this story!

    I still have the pound puppy I got in third grade. His name is Wrinkle:)

  4. Emily on December 8, 2008 at 11:16 AM

    I LOVE Christmas traditions! And being in that “new family” stage I’m getting really excited to think about what traditions Jack (and potential future siblings) will grow up with.

    Thanks for sharing this one.

    Also, Paul and Susan, I still think of you guys and SO enjoy your family!

  5. karlie nicole mann. on December 8, 2008 at 12:21 PM

    Annie, thanks for sharing this! I have always struggled with the thought of raising my kids to believe in Santa Claus. It seems so silly to me that we need to lie to our kids about someone sneaking into the house to bring gifts. The idea and story of the REAL St. Nick seems so much more in line with what I would want, and much more truthful. I will definitely keep this in mine when (if) I have kids.

  6. Tad on December 8, 2008 at 3:29 PM

    What an awesome tradition. I hope you won’t get mad if I borrow it in the event that I too marry and have children. I love hearing about the cool triditions people have for the holidays, but I think this one takes the cake.

    I’m glad too that we can live singly without being forced into prostituion. Although as a guy, I think the equation would have been different for me. I’m thankful all the same.

  7. Justin...that's all on December 8, 2008 at 4:19 PM

    That is truly awesomwe. Gotta love family tradition.

  8. Justin...that's all on December 8, 2008 at 4:19 PM

    That is truly awesomwe. Gotta love family tradition.

  9. Sarah Kate on December 8, 2008 at 11:06 PM

    Those Parsons. They would celebrate St. Nicklaus Day.

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