We celebrated St. Nicholas day (aka Sinterklaas in Dutch) on Sunday with the Dutch/German club here in Stuttgart.  It was a very international affair with not just Dutch & German folks, but also Greek, American & Turkish people.  Despite all our differences, we were there to really celebrate Sinterklaas and have a fabulous time.  Dutch people love to sing, every visit I’m amazed that all my cousins know all the old folk songs and happily, loudly, sing along.  The same is true for Sinterklaas.

We started off the afternoon practicing the old favorites, and then welcomed Sinterklaas in song.  Of course, the best part of Sinterklaas is the presents.  Ask any 5-year-old, or Dane.  He’ll tell you! Sinterklaas gives the best presents. He gave all the kids there a present, and they told him what they wanted.  Much to my kids delight, Sinterklaas spoke not just Dutch, but German and English as well.  They were uber-impressed.  I told them he spoke every language, and understood every child.  Even Tess, who at 11 (and a half) is starting to doubt the existence of Santa Claus & Sinterklaas, had her faith firmly reaffirmed when Sinterklaas fluently spoke all three languages. Just like I said.

Halfway through gift-giving, Sinterklaas needed a break and we were again led in song.  Several of the smaller kids sang solo’s, but when it was Dane’s turn he became suddenly, uncharacteristically, shy.  She even offered to let him sing in German, or English, both languages he speaks much better than Dutch.  He still refused, and then she was looking at me.  She wanted me to lead the crowd in song. Um.  I’m completely, totally, tone-deaf.  I sing worse than nails-on-a-chalkboard sound.  That, she said, made it even better.

She was not to be swayed, and with Dane’s big eyes pleading at me to do this for him, I went up and led the crowd in a rowdy verson of Jingle Bells.  It was, after all, a very international affair.