Tomorrow we’re having a St. Nicholas celebration with our family.
But St. Nicholas Day was December 6, you say?
You are so right.
But in our family, there is no such thing as a firm date. They’re more like suggestions.
Baby due dates? We laugh at those.
Birthday cards? Why not spread the cheer over several days—or weeks—once we remember the actual birthdate.
IRS requirements? Except for that brief, exhilarating “merry extension to all and to all a good pandemic” of 2020, this agency has actually not demonstrated a sense of humor over fluid deadlines.
Anyway, we’re celebrating tomorrow. With potato soup the website swears is actually Dutch.
I could make Soup-n-Brigh (not how it’s spelled in Dutch but generally how it is pronounced). A mix of bread and buttermilk cooked in an open pot until the entire house smells like a men’s locker room with two weeks of unwashed laundry. Or maybe Bluepop. Barley and grape juice and raisins. Cooked in an open pot ’til the raisins swell to the size and texture of turkey gizzards.
So even though the potato soup isn’t a traditional food handed down from my ancestors, it sounds edible.
What I really go for are the sweets. I will be breaking my grandchildren’s tender little hearts because there will be no Dutch letters in their wooden shoes because with shipping, those little first initials of their names doubled in price. My thrifty forebearers would have rolled over in their graves.
But, we will have almond bars and stroopwafels and my forever favorite: Jan Hagel cookies. I always thought this translated as “John Hail” because the topping—rock sugar in the Netherlands, chopped nuts on this side of the Atlantic—look like hail. (If you squint, this side of the Atlantic.) Turns out, it probably came a slang term for sailors, and came to be associated with the riffraff or common people, and unruly mobs. That last one describes my tribe when we’re high on sugar.
Speaking of being Dutch: on the way to church Sunday we were scanning the skies. After approximately 200 years without seeing the sun, the weather forecast was calling for clearing skies. “HA!” I pointed out the car window to a cloud-free area. “My mom always said, ‘If you see a patch of blue big enough to make a Dutchman’s britches, it means the sun will come out.”
And sure enough. After several hit and miss hours, the sun did make a brief appearance. But I’ll tell you from years of experience, it is not always a proven axiom.
Or is it?
How big a Dutchman? How big are his britches? Maybe when the cloud/clear sky ratio hits a certain point, inevitably the sun will come out.
Has anyone researched this? Or is it one of those instinctive things you just learn through generational imprint and experience. I bet those unruly janhagel Dutch sailors would know.
Whether you celebrate St, Nick Day early, late or never, I wish you great blessings of health, strength, safety and faith.
And may all your Dutchmen in the sky have just the right sized britches.