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Saint Nicholas, the guy who is likely the fodder for our modern day, Americanized, secularized Santa Claus, is celebrated on his Saint Day, the day of his death, December 6th. St. Nicholas Day is celebrated in many European countries, but we are trying to emulate the Dutch, who make up a large part of our heritage, and they party down mostly on the eve of the feast day, or Sinterklaasavond. So on the 5th we gather in family numbers and make merry with holiday tunes, fun pakjes (presents), and Dutch food.

At the end of the evening's festivities we set our shoes by the fire, read a bedtime story, and hope that we've been good this year so that Zwarte Pieten won't come and whisk us away in the middle of the night. In the morning Calvin came running into our room asking if it was time to go look in our shoes just yet. Since he was still here, Zwarte Pieten must have deemed him a good boy. That must be why he got an orange, some pennies, and new Christmas pajamas in his shoes. For the rest of the family, Sinterklaas left a new Christmas book and Cooties. Thanks a lot Saint Nick.

There are more pictures in the December 2009 album, of course.

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