From The House of Six Doors~
Sint Nikolaas was a four-hundred-year-old Dutch tradition. In the Netherlands, Zwarte Pieten had to use large quantities of shoe polish to blacken their pale skins, something not necessary in Curaçao. I liked the Zwarte Pieten but I feared Sint Nikolaas. In spite of being disciplinarians the Pieten were only following orders. To a Curaçao native, however, the image of a white man commanding his black servants to carry out his wishes was a familiar old story from the slave days.
Oma never celebrated Sint Nikolaas Day—she disliked it because she felt the celebration was hurtful for some and that a celebration should not be painful for anyone. Mama, on the other hand, loved everything Dutch.
… When Sint Nikolaas called my name I was afraid and didn’t want to go up to his throne. Willia saw my reluctance. “He’s not real,” she whispered in my ear. “It’s Mr. Brand, our neighbor. Go ahead, it’s all pretend.” Shocked, I turned to look at her. She winked as she pushed me toward Sint Nikolaas. Slowly, I walked up to him and sat on his lap. I examined his face and saw his beard was not real. Then I saw the large freckle I knew Mr. Brand had on the left side of his nose. I was relieved that Sint Nikolaas wasn’t real. He handed me a marzipan doll as one of the Pieten extracted a pink bicycle from his burlap bag. It was exactly what I had hoped for. Papa walked up to the throne and helped me with the bicycle. We took it outside to the driveway. We were alone. He held the handlebars while I climbed on. I sat up straight, trying to balance. He smiled down at me then walked alongside, holding the seat with one hand and the handlebars with the other. As I rode my brand new bike, I felt safe with Papa holding me. We turned right out of our driveway, onto the sidewalk, and down the street, leaving the commotion of the celebration behind. The night enveloped us with a blanket of stars.