The Day Saint Nicholas Came

In Holland, children set their shoes
This night outside the door;
These wooden shoes Knecht Clobes sees
And fills them from his store.
But here some hang their stockings up
On handy hook or nail;
And Santa Claus, when all is still, 
Will fill them without fail. 
Speak out, you please, speak out
And let us hear your views;
Between a stocking and a shoe,
What do you see to choose?
One of the most lovely traditions I began with my daughters when I found Waldorf Education was to celebrate St. Nicholas Day. The evening before, the girls leave out their shoes and he comes and fills them with a few small treats, fruit or candy. This year… hot cocoa and chocolate coins. It is a long rooted tradition in many other countries but we enjoy this annual sweet precursor to Christmas and also still put our stockings out for Santa to fill on Christmas Eve.  
If you did not remember to leave your shoes out last night, do not feel like it is too late. St. Nicholas will come to you too. You can put them out whenever you wish.  I have a beautiful Advent and St. Nicholas Day festival ebook I created with my friend Sara Wilson of Love in the Suburbs to help you celebrate this month with the children leading up to Christmas Day if you are interested.

I’ve been working hard to continue the traditions I created with my children this year. It’s a year of change for us and I often had to dig deep within to keep the consistency that I know my girls desperately need right now.  However, I feel that something has shifted in me recently and I am once again fully feeling, living and breathing these things I once cherished so much with them instead of just “acting as if”. Maybe it is a sign of healing. 
I think when we are in pain and struggling through something, it is important to allow ourselves rest and freedom without guilt to let things go and just care for ourselves… but it is also a good practice to continue to strive, to try, to act “as if” in order to push forward toward the light of a new, happier tomorrow. I’m glad I did.  And I can see that my girls are glad I did too. Even teenagers who may act as if these things are silly and non-important need them desperately to remember that life goes on, happiness can always be found, and while many things change many things can also stay the same.
These beautiful candles were made by myself and my girls during the Candlemas Celebration my Lifeways group made during the last training I helped organize in Newtown, CT. I thought it was a perfect way to pull the year together by using something we created in the beginning of the year now at the end as we welcome in 2018.  It is both symbolic and meaningful to burn these candles away toward a new start.
Each year at Advent time, I put out this very simple nativity set. I love how pure and unassuming it is.  It reminds us not to be distracted this time of year by the colors, the lights and the bling.. but to remember what the true meaning of this time is and focus on the unseen truths all around us.  Each day we will move Mary and Joseph closer to the manger and on Christmas Day the baby will appear along with the wise men and the other animals.  
I’ve been preparing for the winter and decorating indoors and outdoors. We also chose and chopped down a live tree this year.  I’m grateful to be able to start new traditions while also keeping some old ones. 
It is empowering to do things that I relied on others to do for me for many years. I will never regret putting my career on hold and raising my girls but one thing I do regret is giving up my independence by becoming so consumed by caregiving for others. It is possible to raise a family without losing yourself or your knowledge of important aspects of your life. And it is not healthy to always feel responsible for others who should be able to be responsible for themselves as well. We also best serve those we love by helping them to be able to do for themselves. As a woman, I will make sure it is the one lesson learned I do my best to share with my girls. Never put your future or your life into other people’s hands, even those who have your best interest in mind.  Do not lose your independence or your sense of self for anyone, even those you love with all your heart.

I am grateful to once again be able to model independence and strength to my daughters even during difficult times.  Our children are with us only for a short while… our dreams and goals matter too. Care for yourself and do not be sorry to do things that will provide you with happiness, independence and a future you can enjoy when your children are all grown up. If you are in a partnership, make sure it is just that. Be a part of it, not on the sidelines. You never know what life holds.
These girls have the biggest most loving hearts and came out to help me when they saw me working outside. I’m so lucky to be their mom. 
This year I thought how fun it would be to start a simple tradition of making gingerbread houses.  
Simple it is NOT!
We had so many laughs as we struggled together to keep our walls from falling, our icing from dripping and a huge mess on our hands.  Our houses were something hysterical to be seen… but we did make some pretty great memories. Better memories than if they turned out well, I think! 
 I would love to hear what type of traditions you and your family share during this time of year.  
Wishing all of you peace, love and happiness.

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