Dec 6, St. Nicholas Day

We are officially in the Christmas spirit. St. Nicholas came last night, stuffing the shoes left by the door with small gifts and collecting the assorted lists, notes, and wishes from the kids. The countdown to Christmas has finally begun.

But it’s more than that. Yesterday, the boys burst into our bedroom at first light and ran to the window. “It’s snowing! It’s snowing!” they announced joyously. And so it was. The snow was light, but continued all through the day. By the time late afternoon rolled around, our county had been magically transformed into a proverbial Winter Wonderland.

Off we went to the boys’ winter recital, at the New Hope Lutheran Church near Spring Mills. The boys wore holiday sweaters, and the Christmas tunes on the car radio, combined with the snowy fields passing by, made us feel festive. At the church, we settled into our pew after the boys opened their cases in the back. A glance at the program confirmed they were slated early, fifth, and they sat quietly with their instruments in their laps, a bit nervous. When their time came, though, they walked right up to the front of the church. Their teacher, Mrs. Shannon Henry, tuned them with two piano notes, and they proceeded to play a trumpet/saxophone duet of “Jingle Bells,” gaining confidence as they went on. As they finished to applause, their parents were so proud of them.

After the last student performed, Mrs. Henry thanked everyone and announced, “Let’s eat!” A delicious feast, prepared and served church members, followed — roast beef, mashed potatoes, noodles, stuffing, vegetables in cheese sauce, all served family style and topped by cake and various kinds of pie. We all stuffed ourselves, sitting at long tables next to other families, the boys playing with the books and present bags Mrs. Henry gave her students, and we left with a warm glow. On the way back, we sang along to the radio, especially with Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” driving by illuminated houses toward our own. Back home, we wrote our lists for Saint Nicholas’ Day, stuck them in our shoes and curled up together, with a bowl of popcorn, to watch “The Grinch,” laughing with our favorite parts — all in all, a fine official start to our Christmas.