It's the eve of St. Nicholas, and to us Dutch, that means presents with a capital P, and lots of traditional types of candy. This morning when they woke up, millions of children would have found the presents and candy stuffed in and put next to their shoes, which they would have put by the fire singing traditional Sinterklaas songs the night before.
When I was a child, Sinterklaas was the most exciting day of the year. All year long I would have racked my brain as to what present I would ask the Saint to bring me from Spain (where we, as children, are told he hails from)...so you can probably imagine my disappointment at one fine December morning finding that instead of the skipping rope with painted wooden handles I had coveted, there was a book lying next to my shoe.
I was 5 years old. I couldn't read. And I had wanted a skipping rope! I howled. I cried. I kicked. I cursed St. Nicholas for a rotten old man.
And then my mother, very gently, drew me onto the couch next to her, opened the book, and started to teach me my letters. So that on my first schoolday some months later, I could show Miss proudly that I could read, and write, and spell my letters!
Which means that today is the 36th anniversary of my literacy. Hurray!