Last year on this day I blogged about our St. Nicholas’ Day experience. It must have been a decent entry because this morning I got a notification that someone had just hit “like” on that post. Only took ’em a year but I’ll accept the praise.
This morning was very similar. Like last year, our children received new slippers. Only this time they were bigger. Also, rather than trying to stuff the slippers into the shoes that they had left out for St. Nick, he (St. Nick) simply placed the shoes back on the kids’ shoe rack and stuff the slippers with candy. They also received a new Veggietales movie each. I was pleasantly surprised to find a chocolate Santa and a giant jar of peanuts (one of my favorite snacks) in my shoe. Of course, I was not actually expecting to receive anything. I don’t know why, I guess because I handle the St. Nicholas stuff I just figured I didn’t need to get anything for myself. I should have counted on my very thoughtful wife to do something. But I didn’t put a shoe out. When I woke up this morning and started getting dressed for work I became flustered. “Where in the hell is my other shoe?!” I muttered to myself. Thankfully that light went off over my head pretty quickly. I walked out to the front hall and there, next to my kids’ new slippers and the shoes left out by my wife and her sister, was my other shoe filled with yummy goodness. St. Nicholas’ Day treats are supposed to be simple, small, really just gestures of generosity — not necessarily huge things. Save those for Christmas Day! That being said, my wife found in her shoe candies along with a large bottle of Mexican vanilla (from San Antonio, she uses it in her baking) and a small pair of earrings that I thought she might like.
At work, I carried the giving spirit with me. I love my job. I love teaching. I love my students. There, I said it. I love my students like my own children. And I’m getting old enough where these high school juniors could almost legitimately be mine by age. Yikes. Anyway, the small group of students in my Ecumenical Issues class came into the room where their instructions greeted them on the board. “Take off one shoe and place it in the hall outside my door. Then, go online and look up the life of Nicholas of Myra.” While they were working online I darted into the hall and poured a couple of bags of chocolates into their shoes. I stepped back in. They knew what I was up to and they were amused. I believe in the words of Our Blessed Lord in the Gospel. “Unless you become like little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” With as much excitement as I could muster at 8:30 in the morning I jumped up and down and said “Kids! Go quickly… I think St. Nicholas has been here!!!” They got up and went into the hall where I had them pose for some pictures for our school’s website. We had a blast. Keep in mind they’re 16 and 17 years-old. But it’s all about enjoying the little moments of joy, maintaining one’s childlike wonderment, and using everything I can get my hands on to teach them the valuable lessons of God’s love.
I’ve never been the world’s greatest gift-giver. I always find myself gripped with fear that I won’t get the right thing for the person in question and then that fear paralyzes me into inaction. I wind up waiting until the last minute and then it’s hard to find the things that I wanted. You see, it’s tough being married to my wife. She’s so perfect in every way. She doesn’t need anything to add to her beauty. She doesn’t need anything from me to enhance her life. And to top it off, she is the perfect gift-giver. She always manages to get me things that I sometimes didn’t even know I wanted and she does it without spending a tenth of what I would have spent. So, I like to think that I did good this time. But it doesn’t leave me with a good feeling — all the stress that went into this one small day when Christmas is just around the corner. Oh well, at least I think our kids enjoyed themselves.
This evening, our good friend Josh arrived for a four day visit from San Francisco. We took him to a real Texas BBQ joint that we love. Four adults ordered $89 worth of beef, pork, and chicken served on wax paper lined trays. I have got to stop eating. Notice I didn’t end that last sentence with “like that”. I turned to my wife the other night and told her that my goal was to be down to 3% body fat and totally jacked. I then added “by Christmas”. We both laughed. I went on: “I don’t think that’s possible even by next Christmas!” Again, my wife is too good to me. She simply reassured me that it was possible. Did I mention that, on top of everything else, she’s a damn good liar? Love her.