Posted by Jo Robertson Dec 20 2015, 12:05 am in Christmas in Berlin, Jo Robertson, Santa Clause, St. Nick
This time of year always reminds me of “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
The famous poem, first published anonymously in 1823, was actually written by Clement Clarke Moore. It’s the seminal verse which formed the modern-day image of Santa Clause from early Victorians to present day. I grew up loving this poem and memorized it as a young child. For me it embodied all of the mystery, excitement, and magic of the holiday.
My earliest Christmas memories were formed in Berlin, Germany, where my military father was stationed from 1950-1954. This was before the Berlin Wall went up in 1961. Listening to adult talk, I became very familiar that “danger” in West Berlin was only an afternoon’s walk away from my home, a lovely confiscated German Colonel’s three-story home with brick walls surrounding it. A lovely hanging tree draped over the wall from my front yard.
Still, the looming presence of the Cold War couldn’t take away my brother’s and my determination to figure out the reality of St. Nicholas. Traditionally, German children put their shoes in the window for the jolly man to fill with candies or a lump of coal.
Credit to Jantoo Cartoons
That first Christmas in Berlin, my brother and I decided to test the myth, having just had a long argument about whether this person named St. Nick, was real or a figment of our parents’ trickery.
We told no one, absolutely no one, of our plan. At the last moment before bedtime, we put our shoes in the window of our shared bedroom, each of us promising we’d stay awake to see the truth for ourselves. I was seven and my brother was six. Of course, we fell immediately asleep.
But we felt we had a rock-solid plan for revealing the reality of the generous, but impossibly vague person who brought presents to us each year. We were in the land of the Germans, after all, and everyone knew they were practical and stern, not fanciful and imaginative like us Yanks. If Santa managed to get past the west-east borders, he must have magical powers.
The next morning, much to our surprise, our shoes were filled to the heels with little German candies.
credit to timbutu.me
That was proof enough for us to believe in Santa long after most children no longer did. Even when the real Berlin Wall went up, I figured my red-suited hero could still find a way to get presents to children in all parts of Germany.
My father enjoyed Christmas more than any person I’ve ever known. He was more thrilled to give presents than receive them, and often “Santa” visited our house late on Christmas Eve before we children went to bed. Dad manufactured delightful theater for us kids. He’d “heard jingles,” he claimed as he ran out the front door! He’d just seen Santa dashing off in his sleigh. Maybe we could catch him if we hurried!
While we raced down the street, trying to catch a glimpse, Mother, of course, “delivered” our Santa presents.
This little game became a family tradition that my father relished most of all. My father was a tough, military man who could be hard on his three children, but at this time of the year? He played Santa and the befuddled father perfectly!
What about you? How old were you went you gave up the magic of Santa (if you have). Is there a story behind that event? What holiday tradition did/does your family share?
I’m so proud of my new release WITHOUT MALICE, which returns the reader to Bigler County from Book #1, The Watcher, that I want to give a free download of WITHOUT MALICE to everyone who answers the question about learning “the truth” about Santa! The book is only available in e-format.
Without Malice is a story featuring lots of characters who have lots of secrets. I hope you’ll have fun unraveling the mystery!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to verify your email address and receive your free copy!