coins of gold

St. Nikolaustag morning my little ones found shining bags of chocolate coins in their tennies and maryjanes. I’ve always made it clear to my children that Santa can’t possibly come to America for a European holiday, so they run to me with their thanks and hugs.

It had been a particularly hard day and Gabriel hugged me long and often. Later I put my hands in my pocket and found a fistful of golden coins– “Gabriel,” I called across the room, “have you given me a chocolate with every hug?”

My answer came in echoes from the kitchen: “He’s been giving them to me too.” “And me.” “I sat down and felt one in my back pocket.”

“Don’t you like your chocolates, Gabe?” I asked.

“I love them,” he replied, “that’s why I want to share them with you.”


His reverse pickpocketing continued throughout the day and then expanded as his siblings joined in the game. And despite the growing piles of foil from the treasures we consumed, the supply of coins never seemed to diminish.

As I dressed for the Youth Choir Concert tonight, Erik expressed surprise that I was going. It’s been a harrowing few days and it’s difficult to mingle in public when your heart is aching. But it was my responsibility to attend and I am, if nothing else, responsible.

Slipping into the back row of the choir, I resolved to simply smile and refrain from sobbing– singing would be optional. Girls sidled next to me, offering a peek at their sheet music and compliments on my red shoes. And as we stood, singing “Away in a Manger” “Joy to the World” “Angels from the Realms of Glory” I drank in the faces of these good, good people who love me and care about my family.

A seventeen-year old girl reached for the hand of her frightened younger sister, toddlers wandered the aisles greeted with hugs and smiles, an older woman scavenged her purse and procured a shiny mirror to calm a crying baby. I’ve lived here long enough to be acquainted with the griefs of many of my neighbors and to recognize that there are many, many more that I can’t know.

The performance ended with a traditional nativity– Mary, Joseph and the babe in the center, a dozen untidy angels, wise men, shepherds and a flock of wild sheep that baahed and butted heads.

Laughter and good wishes filled the room as we folded chairs and shared cookies. Hugs and handshakes and tears were exchanged and we all went home with pockets filled with golden coins.

December 6, 2010
December 15, 2010



  1. Kerri

    December 10, 2010

    I want to clone that Gabe. Beautiful, Michelle.

  2. Tasha

    December 10, 2010

    This is so sweet. May that babe in the manger bring peace to your heart in this challenging time.

  3. Tracy

    December 10, 2010

    What a perfect post, Michelle. Thinking about you.

  4. Jeanelle

    December 10, 2010

    I’m so sad that you’re sad. This comment is filled with love and a big ol’ hug for you, dear one. Oh and I would slip Dove peppermint bark chocolates into your pocket because that’s what’s making me smile these days. xox

  5. Lisa

    December 11, 2010

    Sweet Michelle, I am glad that you are surrounded by those who love you. What a beautiful post with so much to reflect upon. Thinking of you…

  6. Rachelle

    December 11, 2010

    Awww, that was wonderful to read. But, now I’m sad that you’re sad. I know that feeling of not being able to sing because you will end up crying.

  7. Selwyn

    December 12, 2010

    Gabe is such a sweetheart!

    Love you!!!!

  8. Rachelle

    December 13, 2010

    On a happy note, we also celebrate St. Nicholas day with gold coins (plus a new Christmas ornament to hang on the tree and other fun candies) placed in shoes outside of bedroom doors.

    We don’t do it on Dec. 6th (the real day) because that is my oldest son, Elliot’s birthday, but we choose another day in December (when I am ready!).

    Love this post and love you.

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