This time of year I am always reminded of a time when my son was five years old, and he came home from school excited to tell me about Sinterklaas Day. One of his classmates' mom was from the Netherlands, and she had shared with his kindergarten that if you put carrots in your shoes for Sinter Klaas' horse, he would come and leave presents. He picked out his favorite sneakers, put them by the fireplace and put carrots in them, convinced that Sinter Klaas would visit.
Unfortunately, Sinter Klaas did not visit our house that night. It would have been so easy to take the carrots out of the shoes and leave a little gift for him. It would have made him so happy. But I didn't. The next morning, he saw the shoes with the carrots still there and was heartbroken. "She lied!" "She said it would work!" As hard as it was to see him so upset, it was important for him to understand that someone else's holiday tradition was not a means to more presents for him. We can enjoy and appreciate so many traditions and cultures while still staying true to our own. People celebrate many holidays in many special ways. Some families bake cookies for Christmas, and some families play dreidel with chocolate coins for Hanukkah. Some people celebrate SinterKlaas Day, and some people don't. His friend can enjoy her holiday, and he can enjoy his. Maybe they can even enjoy each other's' holidays together.
I asked my son if he remembers that day. He does. And now, at 17 years old, he said in his cynical teenage voice, "You were totally on to me. I thought I had found a secret to a never ending supply of presents and was trying to take advantage of it."
Score one for Mom.