"Grandpa, do you really know Sinterklaas?" This was the question posed to me by Zach, my five-year-old grandson during my visit with his family on December 6th.
One of our family traditions around the Christmas season is that Sinterklaas' (Dutch name for Saint Nicholas) makes a visit to the homes of our family. This jolly old saint delivers a few goodies on St. Nikolas Evening to the Dutch children who have been good. As he must come from Spain, sometimes it is later than when the children in Holland get their "visit". So this year, while the children were in school, Sinterklaas made his annual trek around Utah to let my family know they haven't been forgotten.
Of course, after the deliveries, I am aware that Sinterklaas has made a visit to each of my grandchildren. Even my youngest daughter who is married and in her early thirties looks forward to Sinterklaas and his treats. So the klompen (wooden shoes) are carefully placed on the front porch so they can be easily found. Sometimes, a carrot has been left for Sinterklaas' horse as a special gift.
Sinterklaas reported that when he stopped at the home of our eldest daughter, not only were the klompen on the front porch, but there was a carrot left in the left shoe. A note was also attached to the front door to make sure that Sinterklaas wouldn't miss it. I'll bet it was from my grandson, Ryan!
Thank goodness Sinterklaas has the ability to read any child's note so that he knows what it means. "Thank you for going Asian last year Sam chocklet is in the riat shoo if you do not want the chocklet then poot it in the leftl shoo"
[Thank you for going Asian last year. Some chocolate is in the right shoe (that's where the carrot was placed). If you do not want the chocolate, then put it in the left shoe.] Sinterklaas' horse is getting its year's supply of carrots for the coming year! [Sinterklaas missed that there was a small piece of chocolate with the carrot in the klompen.]
As with previous years, the wooden shoes were found readied for Sinterklaas, so that when he arrived he could leave his goodies for my grandchildren and their parents. The chocolate letter representing their name is always a favorite. But the most sought-after goodie of all is the stroop-waffel (syrup waffel) [pronounced Strope-Vaffel] that only comes once a year and never lasts long!
Our youngest daughter forgot to put her wooden shoes out on the front porch, but she had them ready. I was told that when Sinterklaas arrived, he wasnt sure where to put the goodies, or if she had been so naughty that he wasn't to leave his treasures! In the midst of this confusion of thought, he put the goodies next to the door, and just as he did so, the door opened and Melanie had the wooden shoes in hand. And, of course, she didn't forget to have a carrot for the horse. Sinterklaas was so impressed that he took his smartphone and snapped a photo to share with his helpers as a reminder that they should not forget anyone who was on the "Nice" List!
"Every Dutch child needs to remember to put their klompen on the doorstep so it doesn't confuse Sinterklaas"
"Yes, Zach. I am a personal friend of Sinterklaas. When he had completed his rounds, he even sent a copy of the photo to my email so that I could share this story. When he is ready to come to your house he lets grandpa know so that I can tell your parents that he will be there. That's how they know when to tell you to put your wooden shoes out so he can make the visit. When you asked me how to say some Dutch words, your dad suggested that I sing you the Sinterklaas song so that you could hear the language a bit. I was happy to do so."
Sinterklaas kapoentje, Gooi wat in mijn schoentje,
Gooi wat in mijn laarsje, Dank je Sinterklaasje.
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Saint Nic'las, my dear one, Something in my shoe put,
Something in my stocking, Thank you, Saint Nich-o-las!