I kind of ruined Christmas this year.
Well, not really Christmas, but Saint Nicholas Day, which V and I have grown to favor over Christmas since we moved to London. It’s been our dearest holiday as kids, and not many people we know here celebrate it, which makes it feel deliciously clandestine. Oh, and it’s so much fun!
On the evening of December 5th, Romanian children wipe their winter boots squeaky clean and leave them on the doorstep or the window sill. Then overnight, Saint Nicholas drops by, and if the boots are shiny enough to eat off of, he fills them with gifts.
He’s not as well-to-do as Santa Claus, our Nicholas fellow, so his gifts are usually a mix of trinkets and chocolate in its many forms, though in my case, no sweet tooth to speak of whatsoever, he’s proven to be quite ingenious over the years. One year he actually STOLE my boots, and replaced them with another, brand new pair, in turn overflowing with a bounty of tiny bags of salted popcorn. Gotta love the old guy, right?
Well, anyway, that’s how Saint Nicholas Day is meant to work.
As far as how it’s worked for us this year, that’s a whole different story.
Yesterday evening found me absolutely fuming.
Three or four canceled trains later, I’d been waiting in the freezing cold in Clapham Junction Station for over forty minutes, no book and no internet connection. Not that my fingertips were in scrolling or page turning shape anyway, as they’d frozen into fingernailed icicles a long time before. Eventually I got on the-only-running-train-in-London, one that must have circled my intended destination six times over before eventually making it there, almost an hour later. Lovely V, probably anticipating I’d be blaming him for my ordeal, as I tend to do whenever there’s no one else to blame, picked me up from the station and we drove to a nearby Amazon pickup point, where our super-duper-Black-Friday-deal food processor was waiting for us. I must admit that made me feel a bit better. I mean, I’ll probably be dusting it more often than actually using it, but I can’t help getting high on new-stuff-we’ve-got-new-stuuuuuuuuuuff euphoria every time we get, well…, new stuff. So on the drive home I was slowly defrosting and feeling like life was worth living again.
Then it happened. I ruined
Christmas Saint Nicholas.
As V was setting up the food processor, I almost broke my neck stumbling over his backpack, which, to be fair to the guy, was in its regular place, smack in the middle of the living room. So totally my fault.
Anyway, once I made sure my spine was still intact, I picked it up and moved it to a less trafficked corner. And then I saw it, the package inside, wrapped in a way only V can wrap, like it’s just been in a tumble dryer for a full cycle. I’d have pretended not to see it, I’m nice that way, but he’d come to check on me after hearing me tumble, and saw me seeing it. He SAW me see it. End of story, goodbye Saint-Nicolas-is-still-almost-a-week-away folly, we simply HAD TO exchange gifts then and there, he decided, I’d ruined the surprise.
Now, wouldn’t it have been brilliant if I didn’t have my gift for him ready too? It would have made a much better story, I know. But I’m such a Saint Nicholas maniac, that I’d bought his present a long time before, had it wrapped up in Rudolph themed paper and hidden at the back of my sock drawer, which is where I tend to keep all my dangerous secrets.
A mess of torn gift wraps on our floors for the first time this winter. For the first time since we got the place, come to think of it, so I guess we’ve crossed another threshold of our life here.
Not all things are new, though.
Every year since we started dating, I’ve been giving V a green sweater for Saint Nicholas Day. I hadn’t intended starting a tradition, but he liked the first sweater so much that it grew into a brightly colored, third member of our little family. This occasion calls for the green sweater!, he used to say, and I laughed. He started buying jackets and shirts to best complement it, and I thought he was crazy, but hey, if sweater-crazies is the worst kind of crazies he’s got, count me in!
So every December since, I’ve added to his collection of various-shades-of-green protective layers. They’ve got their own small section of his wardrobe now, and every time I come across it, this block of greens I’ve picked from places all over, it feels like we’re really doing this together-thing the right way. Who knew we had it in us.
I was going to end on a Happy Saint Nicholas Day note, for those of you who happen to be celebrating it, but it’s still way too early. So a “Happy Random Tuesday!” will have to do for now.