St. Nicholas Eve

"It's taking so long," said Antje impatiently.

Jan agreed. It seemed like ages. Luckily Grandma had come. She read them a story but they didn't listen very well. Antje thought of all the things she would finally, finally get. What would it be? A tea set, a rocking chair or the doll with the soft curly hair?

Jan couldn't stop thinking of the puppy dog. Would there be a chance that such a woolly, brown bundle would arrive today? On the other hand, when he remembered the boy who had no father, and the girl who was always sick, a dog suddenly did not seem so important anymore. Even so, deep down, he kept hoping for a pup.

"When does it begin?" asked Antje for the tenth time.

"Soon," replied Mother for the tenth time.

Dad was upstairs, shaving.

Antje asked once more when it would begin, but before Mother could answer, a lot of things happened all at once. Upstairs there was a stomping of feet.

"They're coming," said Grandma in a hushed voice.

There was banging on the windows, and the door bell rang loud and long.

Mother pushed the children towards the fireplace. "You don't have to be afraid. Better sing for Saint and Pete, close to the chimney, so they can hear you well."

While they were singing their favourite song, the door opened and a black hand threw candy and "pepernoten" into the room.

That was too much for the children. They crawled on the floor to find the goodies, under the table, under the sofa, under the piano.

And then came the voice of Daddy from the hall: "Jan, Antje, Mother, Grandma, come and look!"

The front door was wide open. On the porch stood a basket full of parcels. St. Nicholas and Black Peter were nowhere in sight. The children shouted "Thank you St. Nicholas" into the black night, and rushed back into the house to unwrap the gifts.

Jan blinked his eyes. No dog! Nothing moved in the basket.

Daddy handed out the presents. For Grandma, for mother, a book, for Antje, a doll, the one with the soft curls. With almost every gift came a poem, usually a funny one that was read out loud.

But Jan didn't hear a thing. No pup. no woolly bundle.


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