Saturday, December 06, 2008

Advent: St. Nicholas Day

OK, I have to say my all-time, bar-none, favorite holiday movie is NOT "It's a Wonderful Life", "Frosty the Snowman" or "Charlie Brown's Christmas" -- actually, those don't even come close. My all-time, bar-none, favorite holiday movie is Miracle on 34th Street -- the original with Edmund Gwenn as Chris and Natalie Wood giving an amazing performance as a girl who finally believes: "I believe, I believe, it's silly, but I believe". Every year, growing up (this is before videos and dvds, when you had to wait patiently till a TV-station deemed a movie worthy to be shown), "Miracle" was shown on "Dialing for Dollars" on Christmas Eve. It's a classic!

In this all-time, bar-none, favorite holiday movie my all-time, bar-none, favorite scene is when Natalie is slightly off-stage, watching Santa talking to a little Dutch refugee and they begin singing a traditional St. Nicholas song. I love how Natalie Wood's eyes get really big as a man she begins to think may actually be Santa, begins to sing in Dutch.

The tune is also quite catchy. And now I have the words that Edmund Gwenn and the Dutch imigre sing:


Sinterklaasje kapoentje,
Breng wat in mijn shoentje,
Breng wat in mijn laarsje,
Dank je, Sinterklaasje!

Even though the words are in Dutch ... you almost get the sense of the words without the English translation; altho here it is ...



Dear good Sinterklaas,
Put something in my shoe,
Put something in my boot.
Thank you, dear Stinterklaas!

So this is such an appropriate song for our own St. Nicholas Day. We are teaching our kids that Santa Claus is St. Nicholas -- that the Saint who is the patron of children, young men, maidens, seafarers and others, is the Saint who brings gifts to children who have tried to believe and be good. He is the ultimate human symbol of complete self-sacrifice and love for others -- with no looking for what he might "get out of it". I'd love for the kids to try and emulate him a bit more in their own daily lives.

Last night, our family (even mom, dad and 17yod) put their Saint Nick letters in their shoes in the hopes that this morning St. Nick would have taken the notes and left maybe a little something. In our house it's usually a few chocolate coins, a book and maybe a candy cane.

This is such a wonderful tradition for us ... it gets the kids focused on giving to others -- St. Nicholas is such a great role model for that in his willingness to help others, to give to others and keep himself anonymous as much as possible.

We've been reading his story through lovely books:

The book by Carus is a book packed with wonderful tales, amazing legends and facts about the 4th Century Bishop of Myra (now in Turkey) who gave of himself for love of God. This is what I want my children to imitate. This is why we spend much school-time during Advent talking about St. Nicholas -- and the other Advent-time saints -- those who gave of themselves, with no thought to self-aggrandizement but only for love of God and God's creation.

For our special treat today we made boterkoek (Dutch Almond Butter Cake) which is a traditional favorite from the Netherlands.

It's easy to make but oh, so good!
This recipe makes one 9x13 pan or three 8- or 9-inch pans.... so go make some now -- you'll love it!

Boterkoek (Dutch Almond Butter Cake or Bars)
(preheat oven to 325 degrees)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup) softened
  • 1 cup (1/2 pound) almond paste
  • 2 cups flour
  • sliced almonds (about 2 cups)
  • cinnamon sugar mixture

Cream eggs, sugar and margarine, blending well. Slowly add almond paste -- if you cut the paste into small pieces and use a mixer, it will be much easier to incorporate the almond paste throughout the dough. Add flour and beat to all blended. Bake in greased pans (either one 9x13 or 3 8-9-inch rounds); sprinkle top with sliced almonds and cinnamon sugar. Bake till golden and done.

Enjoy!

This was a big hit at a party e went to this afternoon where we watched Navy slaughter the Army at the annual Commander-in-Chief Game (final score 34-0 .... yep, Army scored zilch, zero, nada -- good thing too as all the folks in the room were rooting for Navy!)

ST. NICHOLAS PRAYER

Loving God, we thank you for
the example of St Nicholas,
who fed the hungry,
brought hope to the imprisoned,
gave comfort to the lost,
and taught the truth to all.

May we strive to imitate him
by putting you first in all we do.
Give us the courage, love and strength
of St Nicholas,
so that, like him,
we may serve you
through loving our brothers and sisters. Amen.
by Amy Welborn

1 comment:

CP said...

My husband was in the Navy and just got out in February. GO NAVY! We made these almond cakes today MMMMMMM so yummy, thanks for posting the recipe.