Saint Nicolas and Christmas
Growing up in Belgium, I became accustomed to celebrating the feast of St. Nicolas as well as Christmas.
In Belgium, this is the day on which most presents are given, with Christmas being considered more as a religious celebration. It was always after St. Nicolas, that the kids were in school, bandying about their new toys, while on Christmas only one or two special gifts would be received.
My mother caught onto this tradition quickly, and began giving us small gifts on St. Nicolas, so that we would not be left out, but she still saved the lion's share of our gifts for Christmas Day, combining the traditions of two countries so seamlessly, that I barely even noticed that anything had changed.
When I was ten, I finally got one toy that I had been begging for, for ages: a My Little Pony Doll, and it was exactly the one that I'd wanted: Cotton Candy, all pink with a sprinkling of white on her rump and a pale pink tail.
I carried her proudly to school on the next school day and didn't let her out of my hands for weeks, constantly combing and arranging her lustrous hair.
At Christmas though, the pony was displaced by a most wondrous arrival: Boris, the Bear.
My parents found him at a furniture store, a life-sized stuffed bear, who has stayed with us over the years, became our everlasting playmate, source of innumerable games and sits now, worn, but proud in the living room of my parents' apartment.