Feast of Saint Nicholas

I thought that it was easy to celebrate the holidays just like my Irish arents did.  But when I married a husband and adopted two mixed race boys, I found out that it was a lot harder than it looks for the Easter Bunny to dye three dozen eggs or for the tooth fairy to stick that quarter under the pillow without waking up the kid.

Oddly enough, Kwanzaa was the easiest of the holidays, because we had not history to compare.

When I was a boy, we celebrated December 6th, the feast of Saint Nicholas, as Little Christmas. My brothers and I put our shoes out the night before, and, mysteriously, the next morning, those shoes were filled with nuts and oranges and Hershey’s kisses.

That might have worked in the 1960s South Ozone Park, but not in 21st century San Francisco.  First of all, no other kid celebrates the holiday, so both of my boys are asking, “Daddy, why should we put our shoes outside?  Won’t they get stolen?”

Second, I had one pair of shoes growing up.   Zane has inexplicable become the Imelda Marcos of the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy and he is able to produce no less than twelve pairs of shoes to put out on the stoop.

But hardest of all is the grade inflation.  In 1963, I was delighted with a Bonomo Turkish Taffy bar, but nowadays, my six year old Aidan is asking, “Daddy, do you think that Saint Nicholas can fit an Xbox into my shoe?”

Sometimes parenting is about lowering expectations, showing up with those chocolate kisses when you know the kid really wants a drum set.   So last year, Saint Nicholas filled up all twelve pairs of shoes with hot chips and sour gummies and all the bad foods they loved to eat, and I braced myself for the inevitable, “Dad, why didn’t Saint Nicholas put a bicycle into my Nikes?”

Instead, Zane got up, smiled at all the food, and stuffed his backpack.  When I asked what he was doing, my son of many colors replied, “I’m bringing the treats in for the other boys in the class, who aren’t lucky enough to be Irish.”