Let me tell you a story of one Sinterklaas many years ago. Sinterklaas is a celebration in the Netherlands on December 6th, and the feast and exchanging of gifts happen on the evening of the 5th.
The tradition was that we would draw names and not only get a gift for the person you had chosen, but it also involved creating something unique for the gift to be wrapped in. Then, as well, read a poem that you had written to that person.
To give you an idea, my host sister Elske was to do this for her mom, Mieke. While I was with them, Mieke was studying the classic languages of Latin and Greek. Elske gave her two book and the books were wrapped as a classic temple – a book as the base, a book as the roof and then pillars that Elske had made, in between.
We had some time to prepare, and as I didn’t want anyone coming in my room as I prepared my creation, I put a sign on my door.
I was creating a house out of cardboard and the roof lifted off to reveal the gift inside. This was for my host sister that had moved out to go to university. There were windows that held small gifts. The paper shutters opened to a little cavity in the window that was a small box.
December the 5th arrived and my gift from Mieke was a wooden shoe with my name painted on it, as well as a necklace with little metal wooden shoes. The poem was about me learning the Dutch language and the sign posted on my door saying ‘Klompen’ – ‘Wooden Shoes’, rather than ‘Kloppen’ – ‘knock’, which I had intended. Needless to say, we had a good laugh that I would post a sign saying ‘wooden shoes’ on my door.
I still have the wooden shoe, unfortunately I do not have the necklace as all my jewellery was stolen when our house was robbed in Victoria (when we lived there before kids).
I love learning languages, and I am just very thankful the word I posted on my door, which was so close in spelling to the word I intended, didn’t mean anything inappropriate! It was a happy accident as I had in fact, wanted wooden shoes. As the quote above states, I either Win or Learn, and in this case, I did both.
Happy December the 5th! I will always think of Nelson Mandela as he passed away on this day in 2013.