St. Nicholas Eve.

Mom retrieves the carefully hidden bag of goodies she had been collecting for the past couple weeks. Finances are incredibly tight and there wasn’t much…plastic spinning tops, a few holy cards and a couple nativity bracelets (given by a dear friend), and a couple other novelty items picked up at our friendly neighborhood Dollar Tree store.

Something was missing…the candy canes. We always have candy canes, it’s a tradition. I’d found really big ones for fifty cents each, and was ridiculously proud that at least the candy canes were impressively huge.

But the bag wasn’t there. Apparently in my haste to make it home in time for dinner, I’d left that bag at the check-out counter. I had taken Arthur with me. He’s 14 and asked if he could help good ol’ St. Nick. Our conversation on the way to the store was sweet. He told me he had believed St. Nicholas visited our home, until age 11.   He revels in sharing these adult mysteries…his delight is in no way diminished by this new status

It was Arthur who first heard my lament. I looked at how little we had to put in the shoes…the missing candy canes had left quite a vacancy. I worried that they’d notice, that perhaps their reaction to this seemingly small deprivation would weaken my own resolve that we can remain joyful in the midst of having less. My recent post on just this subject, rang in my ears.  I smiled and said to Arthur…”it’s alright…we have as much as we should, I have to stop obsessing over these candy canes!!”

Yet it still bothered me. I’m a bit strange that way. Empty cabinets, no permanent heat source, a broken dryer and other seemingly large inconveniences haven’t bothered me as much as those missing candy canes did on the Eve of St. Nicholas.

Pretty silly, huh?

St. Nicholas day dawned, frigidly cold and snowy, and a tired group of children rose early to

This seasons reminder...we truly are blessed!
This season's reminder...we truly are blessed!

ready themselves for First Saturday Mass. Sleepy-eyed and cold, they raced to the living room to spy the shoes upon the hearth. I was in my bedroom, playing the part of aloof and slightly surprised parent, listening to the squeals of delight and commenting with matching excitement over each discovery.

“I can’t believe St. Nicholas touched each one of these things…isn’t that wonderful?”   That was Charlotte’s joyful cry.

“See, Mom…look how happy they are!” Arthur whispered.

Thanks, St. Nick. Thanks for “touching all those things.”   Thank you, God, for allowing my heart to be touched by the excitement and appreciation of these beautiful children and for the reminder that you always give us just what we need most!

No candy canes required…

***I picked up the candy canes at the Dollar Tree this afternoon…they were waiting on the counter. The children will be eating them for a month!***