Yahoo! News asked writers from the Yahoo! Contributor Network to share their personal holiday tales and traditions. Below is a story from a contributor.
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The Sixth of December was always anxiously awaited in the Orphanage. “Nikolaus” came every year. This Nikolaus is different then the American version of Santa Klaus.
This Nikolaus was watching us all year. He kept records of what we did right and or wrong. Everyone got a sack full of candy but he brought a whip for those naughty kids. He “padded” their behinds after he told them to jump over it.
In order to appease the guy we practiced poems and songs for weeks. We cleaned our closets and rooms, scrubbed the floors and dressed ourselves in our Sunday Garments.
My heart usually skipped one or two heartbeats when I heard him knocking on the door. We started singing songs immediately. After he looked each one of us in the eye he majestically sat down in the center. Then he opened the book and he called child after child to him and read the records out of his golden book in poem form. The thunderous authoritarian voice still gives me Goosebumps.
Now I was blessed with a good voice and musical talent. I prepared year after year for a solo or a tune on my recorder in order to bail myself out if needed. I just didn’t inherit the German gene of neatness. My clothes never made it folded in the closet. I rarely found my socks in the morning and sometimes upon opening the door of my closet everything fell out. Nikolaus didn’t like it a bit. I knew that. I regularly had to show him my closet and/or play/sing a song for him on the piano, recorder depending on his specific request. Usually my care keepers gave me hints days before he arrived. Needless to say all my shirts and jeans were lined or hung up on the sixth of December.
One year I just didn’t find the time to do it! That was when I was about twelve year of age and the year I started doubting his existence. Nikolaus wasn’t pleased when he saw my shirts careless thrown in the closet. I was in for the whip. It was simply embarrassing to jump over that whip in front of the thirteen other kids. I learned my lesson.
In the end the sixth of December was a joyful time in “Nicolhaus” the place I called my home for many years. I still sometimes long for the camaraderie, poems, songs and the excitement of those days.
After I left I started writing those poems for my kindergarten group but it just wasn’t the same.
When I left Germany and had a family on my own I wanted to give my children Nikolaus too. I recreated a slight different but reasonable resemble of that Orphanage tradition for my family.
For the last 12 years I make sure that our Christmas tree is up before the sixth of December. Then I ask the kids to put their Christmas wish lists under the tree. Nikolaus comes during the night and takes the list and replaces it with a chocolate Santa. However I could use our Nikolaus so they clean up their draws at least once a year.