Friday, December 6, 2013

Celebrate St. Nicholas Day at Home & with Seniors - Countdown to Christmas - Day 6

Today is St. Nicholas Day...the sixth day of our Countdown to Christmas!


The girls awoke to find that St. Nicholas had visited during the night and left treats in their shoes.

Chocolates and socks - two things that St. Nicholas left each of us.

St. Nicholas mixed some practical gifts - like fuzzy socks - with some treats - chocolate candies in the shape of a snowman and angel.

Two things that Sophia received.

There were also some useful gifts - each one received a packet of thank you cards and envelopes.

Two things that Olivia received.

As well as something fun that they could do: watercolor paper for Olivia to paint on, and a cross-stitch bookmark kit for Sophia to make since she enjoys reading and intricate stitching so much.

Olivia with items she received from St. Nicholas.

We've had to put a child gate between the family and living rooms to block out Cooper from the Christmas tree.

Sophia reading about how to make the cross-stitch bookmark.

That ensures that the food treats that St. Nicholas brought would be there in the morning for the intended recipient.

Sophia with what she received from St. Nicholas.

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day is something I didn't grow up with when I was young. It's a tradition that I started celebrating with the girls when they were young. It is one that they have enjoyed, so it has stayed.

Last year, we made a large crozier (a.k.a. crosier or staff) to represent what St. Nicholas carried. this year, we tried a new recipe that was from Taste of Home.

It called for candied cherries. I used maraschino cherries. Shouldn't have done that. Too much liquid which completely changed the texture of the dough. It became very difficult to work with. Despite the unsightly appearance of the croziers, they were quite tasty with the powdered sugar frosting on top of them.

Visually-challenging...but delicious...pastries 
in the shape of croziers or candy canes.

We had maple-flavored sausages with the pastries for breakfast.

St. Nicholas Day breakfast.

This was the meal for the day that tied into St. Nicholas Day.

The girls having their St. Nicholas Day breakfast.
We found the advent star - so now the first purple candle is lit.

After breakfast, we gathered everything up for our St. Nicholas presentation/cat visit at the nursing home. Once there, we set up a little display that had two St. Nicholas figurines and two Santa figures that had elements that represented St. Nicholas.

Display about St. Nicholas that we did at the nursing home.
There are both St. Nicholas and Santa figurines.
Sitting on the green wool are a donkey and white horse.
Both these animals are ones that St. Nicholas rode...
depending on what country you live in.

There were 16 seniors who joined us for the program. They lived either in the assisted living or regular nursing sections.

Sophia and Olivia brought around Eenie (the cat) who they managed to get into at St. Nicholas/Santa outfit for a brief period of time. They visited with the seniors who like seeing Eenie.

After that, I made a brief presentation about St. Nicholas. None of the seniors celebrated St. Nicholas in their families when they were growing up. Santa...yes. St.

Some had learned about him when they were children, but everyone left learning at least one new thing about who St. Nicolas was and what he did during his lifetime.

The girls passed out the shoes filled with gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins. The seniors were delighted and so appreciative of the gift. Many unwrapped their chocolates right away to enjoy them.

Tia, the activities director, sang a Christmas song. Some of the residents sang along with her, and others just enjoyed listening.

Three of the residents and Sophia singing along with or listening to 
a Christmas Song that the activities director, Tia, is singing.

At this point, the residents living in the assisted living section left since they had participated in a program before that. Remaining were the seniors who lived in the nursing home.

So, I explained that I was going to read a book that I read to my daughters each year on St. Nicholas Day (St. Nicholas by Julie Stiegemeyer). Sophia and Olivia hadn't heard me read it yet today, so we all could share in the story together.

John and Joan looking at the book that I read.
John was particularly moved by hearing a story read aloud.

They all listened attentively. One of the gentlemen broke down in tears in the middle of the story. I talked with him afterwards and he said, "My mom would read this story to me."

Although I knew it wasn't this particular story since it was written in 2003, reading aloud to him and the others was enough to trigger a powerful and positive memory he had of his childhood and his mother.

Today we also talked about the fifth day of Chalica. On this day, we look at another Unitarian Universalist principle: the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.

The way this principle can apply to our family is by the way we discuss and choose to do some things democratically - everyone has a "say" and helps make the decision. We talked about volunteering as a family and what service projects and donations we want to do during the upcoming year. Continuing to volunteer with the nursing home is something we all feel will be a top priority in 2014.


Advent Reading

Luke 1:21-23 - The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute. When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.


Christmas Joke

Santa: Knock, knock.
Elf: Who’s there?
Santa: Olive.
Elf: Olive, who?
Santa: Olive the other reindeer.


Christmas Fact

We learned why we hang stockings at Christmas:

A man was so sad over the death of his wife that he spent all this money on bad investments. Unfortunately, this habit left his three daughters without money for wedding dowries.

Even the animals get stockings at Christmas.
The far three belong to the cats 
(Shadow; then Lucy and Maggie; and then Eenie and Meenie).
The ones on the right belong to the horses (Hoss and Bailey).

St. Nicholas wanted to help the poor girls’ cause, so he anonymously threw three small pouches of gold coins down the chimney of their home. The coins landed in the stockings of the women who had hung them by the fireplace to dry.

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