VIEWPOINT: St. Nick Day reminds: embrace the meaningfulNicholas Day is tomorrow. This is traditionally the day children receive small presents in the shoes they left out in the hallway the evening before. It is in commemoration of St. Nick, a wealthy man who lived in the village. On this day of the year, he would pass by the windows of poor children and toss a small bag of coins into their shoes, to be found and relished in the morning. These gifts were a tiny precursor to Christmas, a mere 19 days in the future, and a reminder that the festive season was nearly upon them.
By: Kate Soucheray, columnist, Woodbury Bulletin
Nicholas Day is tomorrow. This is traditionally the day children receive small presents in the shoes they left out in the hallway the evening before. It is in commemoration of St. Nick, a wealthy man who lived in the village. On this day of the year, he would pass by the windows of poor children and toss a small bag of coins into their shoes, to be found and relished in the morning. These gifts were a tiny precursor to Christmas, a mere 19 days in the future, and a reminder that the festive season was nearly upon them.
If we choose to celebrate St. Nick Day tomorrow, the idea is not to have children receive more presents in an already overly-indulged culture, but rather to be reminded that children of long ago were quite content to receive something small and meaningful and that they were grateful for that. These children, you see, were often the poorest children, who neatly placed their shoes by the door at bedtime. They took good care of what they had, partly because they had so little and partly because they wanted to show how much they appreciated the little they did have.
In our country today, even though we are still coming out of the economic downturn, many people have begun to acquire significant amounts of goods again. Do we appreciate these things or do we see them as our right for all the hard work we contribute each day? Would our children be content to receive something small, thrown into their shoes from the window by a passer-by, such as St. Nick? Or would they complain that it wasn’t the latest techie gadget or that what they received didn’t match what their brother or sister did?
How do we cultivate a culture of appreciation and gratitude when there is so much emphasis on want? Would our children be thankful and grateful for receiving something small in their shoe tomorrow, perhaps a candy cane and a well-chosen book? The old adage that “Less is more,” would seem to be appropriate at this time.
If we explore the idea that being happy with less is possible, and perhaps even advisable, it may seem reasonable to persuade our children to accept this small token instead of wanting to receive “more stuff.” If we wish to do this, we begin by setting our wants a little lower and becoming more comfortable and accepting of a little lesser anything, whether it is a car, a purse, a suit, furniture or a house.
Next, we begin to speak more of experiences and the times we spend with each other and allow these to be the focus of our conversations. When we put our attention on the relationships we have with each other, we will help our children see what is most important to us. And as we work to convey that being together is more important than all the stuff we could possibly accumulate, our children will begin to see how true this is.
So, just as the children of long ago placed their shoes in the doorway on the eve of Dec. 6, encourage your children to do the same tonight. Then place something small and meaningful in their shoes as a reminder of how special they are to you, how much you appreciate them being in your life and how fortunate you are as a family. In this way, you will begin to help them see that less is more and that it is the relationship that matters most.
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist