We came late to the St. Nicholas “treats in the shoes” party. St. Nick didn’t start visiting our house to leave a sweet treat for the kids on his feast day until after 1996. That’s the year my oldest started school.
At that Catholic school, all the children would leave one shoe outside the classroom door at some point in the day. While everyone was in the classrooms studying, St. Nicholas would come along and put a candy cane in each shoe.
My son came home to tell us how he’d gotten a surprise in his shoe. Then he asked, “How come St. Nicholas doesn’t visit our house?”
To be honest, I hadn’t known that this was a thing. It’s not something we did when I was growing up. I distracted my curious 4-year-old somehow and resolved to start up the custom the next year.
Over the years, it became something everyone looked forward to; the night before, they’d all go searching for their boots (to have the biggest shoe possible in order to hold the treats or small gifts St. Nick would leave behind) and put them near the door.
The first year my older son was away at college, TheKid wondered how St. Nicholas would fill his brother’s shoe if he was in the dorm. That’s where Priority Mail came to the rescue! I started picking up the small boxes and stuffing them with packets of microwave popcorn, small candy bars, a new toothbrush, and a few candy canes. (It’s amazing what I can jam into one of those small boxes; remember, if it fits, it ships!)
St. Nick mails away 2 boxes now (this year my daughter took her box after Thanksgiving and promised not to open it before today.)
This morning I mentioned on Facebook that I’d cued up every version of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” that Spotify has to offer in my neverending attempt to get my teenager out of bed. A friend of mine replied that she’d forgotten to set out treats in her children’s shoes today.
“Leave them for an after-school surprise,” I replied.
So if you missed the boat this morning or have never begun at St. Nicholas custom in your home before, there’s no reason you can’t start now.
Better late than never!