Thanksgiving being so close to December 6 this year serendipitously altered my St. Nicholas Day observance. While I often find change difficult, this shift just sort of happened — a gift “in secret” from the saint himself perhaps! Our long-standing St. Nicholas practice arose very intentionally years ago from our desire to foster a spiritual meaning of Christmas for our children. Inspired by Gertrud Mueller Nelson’s To Dance with God, the centerpiece of our tradition is decorated cinnamon-spice cookies, cut out in a large image of St. Nicholas and eaten for breakfast in the early morning dark. Over time, making the cookies became a personal ritual for me, carefully planned so as to be done when no one was around, creating the element of surprise on December 6. The past few years I’ve sent cookies to my college kids, but this time it seemed perfectly natural to let them know I’d be baking the day after Thanksgiving, sending the cookies back with them rather than mailing, and to invite their participation. Turns out they both wanted to try their hand at the cookie making, with the idea of sharing St. Nicholas at school. So the tradition is being carried forward. Thank you, dear saints!
Visit St. Nicholas Center for lots of great ideas and background on celebrating St. Nicholas.