Tonight, December 5th, he will ride the roof tops of many houses on his white horse, assisted by his Black Petes to bring gifts to children. I am talking of Sinterklaas, of course.
Although I eventually learned to love the celebration of Saint Nicholas day, I still remember the terror I felt as a small child upon the arrival of the Holy Man from Spain. Every year, around the middle of November, Sinterklaas' steamboat arrives in one of the harbour in the Netherlands, to prepare for his aniversary, like he has done for the past 1600 years. For weeks he is busy setting up the logisitics for his grand magical act, the delivery of presents to all children in the country, the night before his birth day.
Although benevolent, Sinterklaas has a past that is more terrifying than his current practices. Nowadays Sinterklaas brings gifts to all children, but that weren't always the case. Not all that long ago, only good children received presents, while naughty children were either given a spanking with a chimney sweeping broom, or put in a bag and taken to Spain.
When I was four or five years old, I was a firm believer in the existence of Sinterklaas and deeply frightened of the patron saint of children. It wasn't the spanking with the broom I was scared of, never gave that a thought, but the idea of being put in a bag and taken to Spain kept me in a constant state of panic for several weeks. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't sleep, afraid to be considered a naughty child, needing removal.
I don't think I ever told my parents why I was so afraid of Sinterklaas, and I am not sure they could have reassured me that in fact Sinterklaas had given up his practice of child removal decades before I was born. For some reason, I was alway more afraid of telling what scared me, than I was of any actual fear I had. Still my parents noticed my panic around Sinterklaas and decided to tell me Sinterklaas was not real.
The same year I learned the truth about Sinterklaas, I learned my parents were not real either. Just like there was an appearance of a man proclaiming to Sinterklaas, so had there been an appearance of parents I was born to, just like all other children, while in fact I was born to entirely different people.
To this day the lies and make belief of my early childhood don´t feel right. Every year around December 5th, I am reminded that the trust I had in the two people I relied completely on, wasn´t warranted. I was lied to and betrayed by the people I needed most at the time. Ever since, I have become more distrusting, more reluctant to put my faith in someone. What if everything told, ends up being a lie?
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