It's almost here. Last minute baking. Last minute stocking stuffers. Daughter arriving from LA. Last minute quest to find gluten-free pie crust!!!
And tonight, someone will be visiting your house, leaving presents or coal, depending on whether you have been naughty or nice.
Who this person will be depends on what part of the world we live in.
In America it's Santa Claus, of course. He is actually a corruption of the name Saint Nicholas in Dutch. And in Europe St Nicholas does not come on Christmas Eve but on St Nicholas's day, December 6th. In the Netherlands children leave their shoes out for him and find small treats in them. In Germany he comes to the house, dressed as a bishop with Black Peter or Knecht Ruprect (his dastardly side-kick) beside him. The children are called into the living room and St Nicholas reads out a list of their good and bad deeds from the year. We hope they are good because his side kick sometiems carries a whip! Then the child has to recite a poem, sing a song and is given nuts, candies.
In England he's called Father Christmas and he used to leave our presents in a pillow case at the bottom of our beds. I remember the thrill of waking in the pre-dawn darkness, seeing a bulging shape by my bed, dragging into bed with me and feeling the wrapped gifts--bursting with anticipation.
So I'm wishing all of you a merry, merry Christmas and hope that whoever delivers the gifts tonight they are exactly what you want, and your Christmas is merry and bright!