So I think it is no secret that I love the holidays. While overall Halloween may win out as my favorite, Christmas is a VERY close second. And I am all about the traditions. I am half Dutch, Dad being from the old country, and we always celebrated St. Nicholas. On the night of December 5th, you set out your shoes (and when I was growing up, we had wooden shoes just for the occasion) and in the morning there were treats waiting for you! Unless of course you were bad and then you were kidnapped by Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) and taken to Spain. [Here we will pause in the narrative to allow you to enjoy David Sedaris' take on Dutch Christmas. It is too funny, I couldn't resist.]
Naturally, we've carried this tradition over to our children, though we are lacking proper wooden shoes. (A little help here Oma & Opa?) The kids love it and it reminds me of my childhood. Perfect. We were out on December 5th and the kids, under the supervision of the babysitter, set out shoes for the whole family even though they were worried about Daddy because he "isn't Dutch at all and we think St. Nicholas knows." And the next morning they were delighted with their teaser for Christmas.
Which brings me to the Scrooge part of this post. I adore family holiday traditions. I detest the commercialized, homogenized "new and wildly popular" pseudo traditions.
Morrigan came home from school and wanted to set out crackers and a glass of water for the elves. Apparently, one of her classmate's parents said this is a snack for elves and if you leave it, they visit. And then the parents, nightly, disrupt something in the house (organization of toys, a mess in the kitchen, you get the idea) and say the elves did it. Ummm, not a freaking chance. The very last thing I need at this time of year is to have to remember to create a mess, nightly, which I will have the pleasure of cleaning up the next day. I told the children that Santa didn't need an intermediary here. I talk to him directly.
I also am generally anti Elf on the Shelf, an American tradition since 2005! If you have managed to escape this treat, it is a book and elf doll (that retail for $39.95) which tells the story of an elf looking in on kids for Santa. You move the elf doll nightly and the kiddos have to find him. He is apparently Santa's spy. I just tell my kids Santa doesn't need a spy at our house because 1) as we already covered, Santa speaks to me directly and 2) I don't give a rat's arse what Santa gives you - if you misbehave, Mommy will take it away.
Now for all those shelf elf fans, before you get all bent, if it works for you, terrific. But for my taste, it is a bit contrived and commercial. I prefer traditions that develop organically. That being said, it seems to have raked in the bucks for the book's author. Hmmmm.....coming soon to a bookseller near you: Dutch Like Me - The Story of St. Nicholas and his Trusty Sidekick Zwarte Piet! (comes complete with one pair of wooden shoes.) Only $44.95! Additional shoes sold separately.