My mom’s antique nutcracker collection has officially replaced my daughter’s favorite Barbie. Our tree has been up since September. Amazon boxes arrive daily and Christmas lights sparkle from my front porch (because let’s be honest, I never took them down).
What’s this all mean? You’re a mom and Christmas is just around the corner!
But for some families, the official kickoff to the holiday season doesn’t start until children place shoes outside their bedroom doors at night and head to bed to dream of gifts tucked inside come morning. What’s this you say?
It must be St. Nick’s Day! (Officially the Feast of Saint Nicholas in the Catholic faith, celebrated on December 6).
I know. Just what you need, right? Another pre-Christmas, mini holiday, to-do? Stick with me here — this one is fun and has a positive message sure to put everyone in the true holiday spirit. And here’s the best part: anyone can celebrate St. Nick’s Day! It’s all about learning to celebrate the joy in giving back to others.
So, you ask, HOW do you celebrate St. Nick’s Day?
Start your kids off with a little background. The name Santa Claus originated, in part, from a Dutch Saint, named Nicholas. Known for his kindness and generosity towards children and those in need, we celebrate Saint Nicholas every year on December 6, the anniversary of his passing, through the receiving of small gifts and acts of generosity towards others. Next, try talking to your kids about the importance of giving back. Engage them by asking questions like, “What are a few things that we could do for others?”
Now here’s the fun part! (It’s like a pre-Christmas mini holiday!) The general idea is that on St. Nick’s eve, generous ol’ Saint Nick leaves gifts inside children’s shoes at night for them to find the next morning on St. Nick’s Day. So, just before bedtime on December 5 (St. Nick’s Eve), ask your child to select a pair of shoes from their closet.
It’s fun to see how little personalities influence shoe selection.
Growing up, my brother and I thought we were superrr smart — we’d hunt for the biggest pair we could find hoping that a little extra space meant additional gifts. (My poor mom had to veto us one year for trying to use my dad’s old Army boots).
Next, ask them to place the shoes just outside their bedroom doors and then head to bed. For the mamas worried about the true meaning of the holidays being lost on your toy-feigning tot, good news: the day is really all about celebrating the gift of giving back to others. So when the kids wake up to find gifts neatly tucked (or shoved and crammed) into their tiny shoes, start to brainstorm ways you can spend the rest of the day giving back as a family.
A few ideas:
- Collect toys from a bulging bin to donate
- Bake and decorate holiday cookies for a homebound neighbor
- Take old towels and blankets to a local animal shelter
- Collect change from couch cushions and brighten the holidays for those in need by donating to your favorite local charitable organization
- Give back time by simply spending time together as a family at one of Knoxville’s family Christmas and Holiday events