When Father Was Little

After dinner the children scrambled onto Daddy's lap.

"What do you want from St. Nicholas?" asked Antje.

"A new sweater," said Dad, looking at the worn-through sleeves.

"When you were little, were you afraid of St. Nicholas and Black Peter?" asked Jan. He remembered being a bit afraid himself when the boat had come nearer with Saint and Pete aboard.

"Once I've been really afraid," said Dad. "That was on December 5th, a long time ago. A few boys had told me that St. Nicholas didn't exist, and foolish me, I boasted to the kids in my class about it. No sooner had classes begun, or there was a knock at the door. My heart almost stopped beating, 'cause the door opened and a black hand threw candies into the classroom."

"Black Peter?" said Antje.

"Yes," Said Dad, "everyone crawled on the floor to get to the goodies. Then came another knock at the door. The teacher said that St. Nicholas would visit us and that we should sing him a song right now. When we were finished, there was more knocking and then the door opened, and in came St. Nicholas in his beautiful red cape and with his long white beard. Black Peter carried the sack and he had a switch in his hand. I wanted to disappear into the ground. I had just boasted that St. Nicholas didn't exist and here he was, right in front of me! One moment I was quite certain I would be punished, and I got a bad tummy ache."

"What happened then?" asked Jan.

"First a girl had to sing a song for St. Nicholas, then a boy, he stuttered a bit."

"And then" asked Jan again impatiently.

"Suddenly, St. Nicholas got up, came straight to me, and looked me in the eyes. I wanted to say that I was sorry, but he shook his head as if saying - don't be afraid of me, you know I exist because I am here - and then he smiled. And then I knew that you never have to fear St. Nicholas, not even if you have been bad, because he will always forgive you."

Home Page| The Arrival | The Letter | When Father Was Little | In the Night | At the Store | A Visit to St. Nicholas | The Visit | St. Nicholas Eve | The Farewell Song