The House of Six Doors~Sinterklaas

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.

1 thought on “The House of Six Doors~Sinterklaas”

  1. This is a simply lovely passage, Patricia! Thanks for sharing it with us. I don’t remember reading it in the book… is it new? I love the image of the night enveloping you in a “blanket of stars”. It’s a wonderful story of a first bike, and of a child’s dilemma with the discovery of the Santa myth (especially the Curacao version)! If you look deep enough into the history of the New World, there’s slavery festering underneath, building the prosperity of the new land with forced labor… your child’s view provides an innocent and honest unveiling of those hidden roots, yet expressed with love and tenderness.

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