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In Germany, the Christmas season “officially” begins on December 5, Saint Nicholas Eve. When I was four years old, my father was transferred to Germany and we lived there for about 2 ½ years. In the town where I lived, it was customary to place your shoes next to your bed at night, and Saint Nicholas would leave either a small gift or a piece of coal, depending on whether you had been “good” or “bad” during the past year. On the morning of December 6, Saint Nicholas often makes a personal appearance in towns and villages, personally presenting the candy and coal. Even after leaving Germany, my parents always brought up Saint Nicholas, and his alleged knowledge of whether we had been “naughty” or “nice” during the year. Saint Nicholas fit neatly into our American traditions, as Santa’s helper. 

Even today, December 6 still signals the start of the holiday season for me. This is usually the time I decide to make a few batches of cookies. I enjoy making traditional sugar cookies in holiday shapes. But no Christmas is complete without Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. These are a great cookie anytime of the year, but the first time I had them was part of a holiday cookie exchange, and they have been a tradition ever since. They are easy to make, very chocolatey, and the powdered sugar makes a very pretty coating when they bake. Besides, the recipe makes a lot of cookies, so what’s not to like?

But the real reason I chose this day of all days to host the Blog Advent Calendar is the Saint Nicholas Day surprise that I received 12 years ago. My youngest daughter, Julia, was born December 6. She was due to arrive December 23, and I was stressing out about the possibility of spending Christmas in the hospital. Julia had other ideas and, like Saint Nicholas, decided to make an early appearance. I guess Saint Nicholas decided I’d been good that year; she has brought our family tremendous joy ever since.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

Be sure to visit the remaining stops on the Advent Blog Calendar Tour!
7 December - Wendy (Caribousmom)
8 December - Nymeth (Things Mean A Lot)
9 December - Raidergirl (An Adventure in Reading)/ Chris (Stuff as Dreams are Made on)
10 December - Dewey (The Hidden Side of a Leaf)
11 December -Suey (It's All About Books)
12 December - Chris (Book-a-rama)
13 December - Jill (The Well-Read Child)/Stephanie (The Written Word)
14 December - Robin (A Fondness for Reading)
15 December - Alyssa (By The Book)
16 December - Rachel (A Fair Substitute for Heaven)
17 December - Literary Feline (Musings of a Bookish Kitty)/ Stephanie (Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic)
18 December - Dev (Good Reads)
19 December - Callista (S.M.S. Book Reviews)
20 December - Tiny Little Librarian (Tiny Little Librarian)
21 December - Carla (Carla Nayland Historical Fiction)/ Susan (Reading, Raving, and Ranting by a Historical Fiction Writer)
22 December - Carolyn Jean (The Trillionth Page)
23 December - Booklogged (A Reader's Journal)
24 December - Kailana (The Written World) / Carl V. (Stainless Steel Droppings)



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
What a cool post! Those cookies look delicious! I have a December baby too - my oldest son was due on January 10, but he decided to come a little early - December 27! He handles having a Christmastime birthday very well.

Happy Birthday to your beautiful Julia! She's a cutie!!!
Dec. 6th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
Jill, I highly recommend having babies early! :-)
Both of mine arrived about 3 weeks before their due dates!
Dec. 6th, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC)
Great post, Laura! I love reading about traditions (and how cool that you also have a birthday child so close to the holidays). But, I am sitting here chuckling - I decided days ago what I was going to post tomorrow and it should no longer surprise me how like of mind we are - I won't say more, but you'll see when I post the parallels!

Dec. 6th, 2007 04:50 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness Wendy, I can't wait!
And as for holiday birthdays, my older daughter was born January 2, so it's nonstop cake, presents, etc. for about a month, starting today!
Dec. 6th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
Everyone is doing such a great job, I'm getting nervous for my turn!

I too have a Christmas baby. She was actually due on Dec. 31, but showed upon the 21st. I was home by Christmas and feeling great!!

Now I'm off to add the cookie recipe to my growing list!

Dec. 6th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
It is so great that you have a day that you could pick that has such special meaning. Happy Birthday to your daughter and congrats to you mom! This was a great post and the cookies sound wonderful.
Dec. 6th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
Great post. I've thought about doing the tradition of St. Nicholas, but having no real connection to Germany has kind of dampened that desire. I also have a December baby -- the 5th -- and was stressed about her being late and me ending up in the hospital for Christmas. Though I suppose it would have been just fine.

I need to try the cookies out, too. I like getting new cookie recipes. :)

Dec. 6th, 2007 09:30 pm (UTC)
Merry Christmas and great post.
The cookies look great - you can never go wrong with chocolate.
And happy birthday to your daughter.

I have November and January babies, but not December. I find their birthdays are close enough to Christmas to make presents hard, I can't imagine December.
Dec. 6th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
Saint Nicholas day sounds wonderful.

Merry Christmas and happy birthday to your daughter :)
Dec. 7th, 2007 12:36 am (UTC)
My flatmate is polish and she just told me today that it's St.Nicholas day (or santa's day) and that they exchange presents in Poland on this day too, like at christmas. And then I come here and you're talking about it too!funny:)
Thanks for sharing your tradition,I should definitely try those cookies too!
happy birthday to julia as well!
Dec. 7th, 2007 03:45 am (UTC)
What a wonderful post, Laura! Thank you for sharing. And Happy Birthday to your daughter. :-)
Dec. 7th, 2007 09:09 am (UTC)
Laura - thank you for sharing such a lovely story, recipe and delightful photos! I wish you and your family a peaceful and joyful Christmas.
Dec. 8th, 2007 02:34 am (UTC)
Lovely present from St. Nicholas! I'm thinking I'm going to have to bake some of your cookies to have along with Melissa's hot cocoa. Mmmmm. Merry Christmas.
--booklogged (http://www.readfromatoz.blogspot.com/)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )