The Stars of St. Nikolaus Eve ~ by Sharon Couto

22 years ago, inspired by the legend of St. Nikolaus and the Feast of St. Nikolaus on December the 6th, a day St. Nik delivered little treats and sweets to children while the more sinister Piet delivered straw switches to misbehaved children, I wrote this narrative poem to celebrate this feast day. I thought, Hmmmmmm, maybe it would be fun for St. Nik to spread the secrets of keeping children in the behaving mode rather than the vexing mode as Christmas Day neared. 

Forgotten on a shelf for all these years, I thought I’d dig up my story to read to my own 11 grandkids (and one more on the way!). They love it!

I hope you like it, too! And oh… today is DECEMBER 6th ~ The Feast of St. Nikolaus!

The Stars of St. Nikolaus Eve ~  by Sharon Couto

stars-shooting

Evening star,
Falling star,
Shooting star, too –
One of these stars could come to you.

Sit back and Listen…

‘Twas years and years and years ago,
on a night of softly falling snow
That St. Nikolaus paced worriedly, to and fro,
gently rubbing his mustachio –
Pondering the news he had just received,
concerning his Candle-Maker, Augustine,
Whom amid coughs and snuffles
and sniffles and sneezes,
Graciously explained
that she must take leave –
For awhile.

“But all is done,
as always is done
on the Eve of December the sixth,”
St. Nik whispered
as he studied his list,
“Except for the candles.
The children’s candles.
The candles from me, St. Nik!”

“Look,” he pointed.
“White Horse is groomed,
his shoes are a’shining.
His bridle is polished,
and his mane’s intertwined –
with holly and ivy and mistletoe berries,
and his reins are aglow with tinkling bells,
so merry.”

“And there!
Red Robe, my tailor,
has prepared my cloak,
adorned with colors
from his kaleidoscope –
embroidered with yarns of red, gold and blue,
and lined with the softest, the softest lamb’s wool.”

“And Mrs. High Hat,
may I inquire?
Is my headdress ready
with plumes and jewels and ribbons and threads?
Ready, ready to warm my head?”

Seconds and moments and minutes then passed
As Time sifted softly through the hour glass –
As St. Nikolaus twisted his white mustache,
Listening to steeple bells of brass
Ringing in the hour of 9
Under the palest –
The palest of moonshine.

“Peter Pink Peter!” he finally called,
‘Tis time. ‘Tis time.
We mustn’t forestall.
We gallop o’er the world this night!
You must find me a Candle-Maker –
A maker of light!”

St. Nikolaus then turned
where the yule log burned bright,
and accepted from Gold Smith
his staff of crystal light…

But the saddle of ruby leather
lay waiting on the cot –
its bags unfastened,
its locks unlocked..
As Saddler, the Master of clamping the clamps,
beheld empty candle pouches
beneath his work lamp.

Now Peter Pink Peter
stopped gathering his switches,
Grabbed his pink cap
and candy-cane britches –
He slipped on his slippers
and dashed from the door,
Shouting, “Come hither. Come forth. Come now, I implore.
For St. Nikolaus needs a Candle-Maker.”

But the village streets were empty,
The bells did not toll.
Only lamp lights flickered
Through a blanket of snow.

For the smallest children slept,
dreaming St. Nik
Would deliver a candle –
most specially mixed.

The next biggest children bustled,
spreading white sheets so fair
Over doorsteps, thresholds,
front halls and stairs…

While the biggest of children
offered silent wishes
That they would receive candles –
Not a handful of switches.

But quite unexpectedly
came a rustling sound,
And Peter Pink Peter
turned quickly around
To find a small girl
with very bright eyes
Plop down from a fir tree
with a glimmer of surprise…
Her very fair hair
peeked out of her cap,
And she hid something straw-like
behind her small back.

Now Peter Pink Peter
narrowed his eyes –
For he began to recognize
This girl,
This small girl
in the snowy mist –
This girl who was hiding
a straw-like switch.

He murmured, “You must be Eve.
Yes. Yes, indeed.
Certainly Eve
is whom you must be –
For the vexing-girl switch you hide
is from last St. Nikolaus Eve.”

But Eve just tugged on her pajamas,
brushed snow from her sleeves,
And announced,
“I can make candles.
My Grandpa taught me.”

At precisely that instant,
the steeple bells rang 10 –
While Peter Pink Peter glanced
up and down the avenues again –
Not one whisper whispered,
Not one peep peeped,
Not one lantern burned –
Only the snow still steeped higher
And higher
And higher.

While at the very edge of town,
St. Nikolaus rubbed his mustache
and frowned –
Worriedly pacing to and fro,
Sipping his hot cocoa –
When tumultuously,
Uproariously,
The door opened wide,
Sending St. Nik
on his broad backside –
spilling his cocoa,
scattering dust,
tipping beeswax, cheeks all a-flush…

There stood Eve and Peter –

But Eve just tugged on her pajamas,
brushed dust from her sleeves –
And announced,
“I can make candles.
My Grandpa taught me.”

To which Peter scolded,
“Oh, beeswax, tallow
molds and wicks,
Then get about it –
Double-quick…
For I’ll be watching,
No mischief will there be,
Or this night will be a SWITCH night –
I guarantee.”

So with some din and discord,
jangles and jerks,
Eve set about her work –
Melting, cutting, tints combining,
molding stars and stars and stars
A’shining –
The yellowest yellows,
The bluest blues
Reds, greens and purples
Of a million hues…
And scents to send
Nik’s nostrils aflare –
Pines and berries and fruits
she prepared.

But Eve’s greatest mixture,
her masterpiece –
Was the one that made Peter sneeze –
So that each time he blew his nose,
Eve tucked a star candle
Inside the pockets of her night-clothes —

So that a hundred years
could come and go,
And still Eve’s candles
would sparkle and glow –
And on each and every
St. Nikolaus Eve,
Never again only a switch
Would she receive.

11 bells soon rang clear –
The hour of departure was very near.
Hustle and bustle was everywhere
As excitement hung thickly
in the air.

Red Robe,
Gold Smith,
Saddler, too –
Mrs. High Hat,
White Horse,
An anxious crew!
Peter Pink Peter
with switch upon switch –
And Eve
with her candles,
all gloriously mixed.

St. Nik smiled
as he looked about,
And brushed his white mustache
away from his mouth,
Calling, “Peter Pink Peter!
Unite with us in celebration,
to show our young Eve
our heartfelt appreciation!
Bring out the gingerbread,
and sugary marzipan,
and let us revise
this night’s plan –
For Eve, my Candle-Maker,
must ride with me
o’er the continents,
mountains,
deserts
and seas!”

“Red Robe, my cloak!
Gold Smith, my staff!
Mrs. High Hat, my headdress!
Saddler, the star candles,
you must bundle and pack!
White Horse, come hither,
make ready for our trip –
And Peter Pink Peter,
do not forget your Lists!”

Now —
Peter Pink Peter
scrambled about,
Searching, seeking,
pursuing throughout –
Turning, rolling,
upending, plowing –
All the while murmuring,
Vowing —

Eyeing Eve
with squinted pink eyes,
Whispering,
“My Lists had better soon
materialize –
For there are favorable children,
there are vexing children –
there is nothing between…
And any interference
must be seen –
as the evil of evils,
the worst of the worst,
the wickedly wicked,
the dastardly accursed.”

The room stood still –
a frozen frame,
As this little girl Eve
with tremendous blame –
Tugged on her pajamas,
took the Lists from her sleeves,
and announced,
“I made star candles
because I believe
that no child deserves switches
on St. Nikolaus Eve.”

Peter Pink Peter
uttered not one word.
He just flitted and foraged
like a ravenous bird –
Gathering switches
upon switches,
upon switches,
to deliver —
One hundred more switches
he stashed in his quiver…

“Switches for Eve,
the false cavalier,” he whispered –
“Switches to last
the next one hundred years.”

Seconds and moments and minutes then passed,
As Time sifted softly through the hour glass.
St. Nikolaus stroked his white mustache
and listened to the steeple bells of brass
Ringing in the midnight hour,
While drifts of snow heaped higher
And higher.

Then St. Nik’s words were quietly heard,
“Midnight, snow white, silent night –
The moment has arrived for our ride tonight.
Peter and Eve – cast aside disagreement –
Shake hands and invite
your two hearts to unleash
such anthracite.”

Then ever so slowly
Eve extended
her right hand to Peter
as St. Nik had recommended –

And slowly,
Slowly,
Peter, too,
offered his right hand to Eve
with solicitude.

But in Eve’s left hand,
a candle she gripped –

And likewise,
in Peter’s left hand,
lay a long straw switch.

White Horse then whinnied,
He snorted and neighed,
As St. Nik grandly mounted
and clutched scarlet reins.

Eve ascended next,
with the help of Gold Smith –
Peter was third,
with his Lists upon Lists
Waving,
Unraveling
Smeared with ink –
with checks and notations,
each with distinct
instances and examples
of deeds bad or good —

And colors,
A multitude of colors,
to describe all the SHOULDS —

Green Ink – Should Be More Generous
BlueShould Behave
Should Practice Patience in Purple
YellowShould Be More Brave

But written in Red ink,
with exclamations to exclaim –
Was the simplest of Shoulds —
Should Remain Quite the Same!

Then in a flurry of footsteps
and hooves fancy free,
The door whipped wide open
and instantly –
White Horse circled once,
and galloped gracefully away,
As St. Nik’s apprentices
Joyously waved.

Snowflakes, snow fall,
Snow drifts abounded –
Like blankets
and blankets
Of softest swan’s down.
And the tiniest tinkling of bells resounded
As White Horse neared
the edge of town,
Where cottages were aglow,
fires in place
And sheets of white cloth
Commonplace.

Here and there,
through a crack or a crevice,
Wafted sweetest aromas
Of warm sassafras –
And teas or orange,
lemon and mint,
And just for White Horse
Baskets of quince.

Noses to window panes,
Eyes as such –
All the town’s children
Wonder-struck.

Watching White Horse, so stately –
his galloping hooves,
And St. Nik’s Red Robe
as it so grandly moved.

Eve gently brushing
snow from her sleeves —
And Peter Pink Peter
so greatly aggrieved,
with his cap taking flight,
merely one slipper on —
His candy-cane britches
Woe-be-gone.

“Unlock the gate
to the first house,”
Peter soon said,
“I’ll check my Lists
for the ink color with shed
Some inkling,
Some hint,
Some question,
Some truth –
Some useful information
concerning that youth.”

For shadowed in shadows,
Dimmed in dim light –
Stood a child much like Eve,
A tiny boy in the night.

“A SWITCH!
a switch,
a switch from my quiver –
A SWITCH,
a switch,
a switch to deliver” –
shouted Peter Pink Peter
with great emphasis,
“For BLUE is this boy’s name
on my Vexing Boy List.”

Now Eve was in
and odd situation,
grasping Peter’s switch
with terrible anticipation –
When inspiration
broke quite free –
A wrinkle
to wrinkle
This St. Nik’s Eve –

As Eve opened her left hand,
feeling not the slightest gloom –
For the star she’d been hiding
was the Bluest of Blues —

And she tucked Peter’s switch
Deeply inside her sleeve,
Whispering to the boy,
“If you please…
Spread this message,
Ride behind us tonight –
Switches will be switched with
starry illuminates tonight!
ALL children receive candles,
the starriest lights —

Candles of colors,
Millions, all told,
Candles of stars
with secrets to unfold –
Green Ink – Should Be More Generous
BlueShould Behave
Should Practice Patience in Purple
YellowShould Be More Brave

But a candle of Red,
is has been preordained,
Means the child to receive one,
Should Remain Quite the Same.

“Make haste,” Eve whispered,
“This secret must soar,
through all towns and villages –
to valleys and shores.
Over mountains, to cities
to climates of sun –
Each child must know,
One by one.

So mount your Pack Pony now –
she looks awake and headstrong,
and neighs with excitement
at coming along!”

“But Pack Pony’s shoes are thin,
her saddle in worn –
Her stirrups are threadbare,
and her blanket is torn,”
answered the tiny boy.

“There is no time,”
whispered Eve,
“to worry, to fret,
Or Peter will get
the best of us yet.
Come! Come!
Now! Now!
Pack Pony must journey with us –
Somehow.
Mount in haste,
for Pack Pony there
will follow White Horse
everywhere.”

Then back to White Horse
Eve quickly raced,
While Peter Pink Peter
furiously paced –
Grumbling his grumbles,
griping his gripes,
Checking his Lists
by his lantern light.

Tiny Boy took heed
of Eve’s imploration,
Nobly taking charge
of a bleak situation –
And as Pack Pony nickered
and whinnied and quicked…
With the will of a princess,
but bones not-so-quick –
Tiny Boy in his nightclothes,
and worn woolen cape
Stuffed his robe pockets
with sugar beet nuts –
And whispered a whisper
to Pack Pony, thus:

“We must ride through the night
as silent as fawns,
And our work must be finished
before the rooster crows at dawn —
For all children receive candles,
the starriest lights…
Candles of colors,
millions, all told,
Candles of STARS,
with secrets to unfold.”

And with loving eyes
and heart so warm –
Nightclothes floating
airborne –
Tiny Boy,
with his candle deep blue,
Sped through the night
through the snowiest views –
Onward
and over,
and upward
they ambled –
St. Nik with his troupe,
Pack Pony untrammeled —

Showering candles into doorways,
portals and gates –
Eve switching switches
With starry illuminates.

All the while Peter
clenching his Lists –
His lantern dwindling
to a flickering twitch.

Tiny Boy trotting
quite hidden behind –
Revealing the secrets
the colors designed.

When precipitously,
Quickly,
With no warning at all –
Voluminous clouds
Enveloped them all.
Veiling the moon,
Wrapping the stars,
Sending medleys of snow pedals
from Heaven’s gardens.

A most ominous whirl
of wicked white
Extinguishing all lanterns
in the night.

Noiseless,
Still,
Hushed,
Becalmed.
Tranquil silence,
But for one voice —
Where from?

Peter Pink Peter
lashed around,
falling headlong
to the ground –
Cocking one ear
to the sound –
Whispering,
“Vexing, vexing, vexing, thee…
My Lists are also in my head, you see.
Ah, yes!
It is Tiny Boy.
Tiny Boy, you must be.
For wagging your tongue
is your specialty.”

Then fumbling a fumble,
trying to spark a spark –
Peter’s feeble flame flickered,
and diminished to dark.

“ALONG WITH THIS ONE,”
Peter pointed to Eve..

“Two vexatious children,
ill-behaved —
Unrelenting
Twaddle
Racket
ROT –
Haranguing
Ranting
Loquacious
SLOP –
Voluble
Gabbing
Never
Still –
Vexatious children
who test my will.”

“But Master Peter,” Eve exclaimed,
“I am content to suffer the blame.
I travel tonight of my own accord –
But Tiny Boy mustn’t suffer such discord.”

“Wait, Master Peter,” Tiny Boy said,
“I am content to suffer instead.
I travel tonight for the zenithal prize —
That CANDLES, not SWITCHES,
bring words to the wise.”

Now Peter Pink Peter
fumed and spat,
Raging with fury
at this talking back.

When White Horse suddenly brayed
through the powder of white –
A bray to signal dangers
On this moonless night.

Swirling fleece,
so feathery soft,
In mountainous drifts,
amassed aloft —
North
South
East
West
Snowfall blanketed
The best of the best.

Soundless,
Noiseless,
Nary a breath –
Hooves
and footfalls,
Stuck –
at rest.

Except for a kindle,
the tiniest sound –
Of something,
Something,
Something profound.

As one
By one –
In the quickest of flight,
Eve’s once hidden candles
Illuminated the night.

One hundred candles –
A fireworks of wicks,
Once deep in Eve’s pockets,
Now aloft
and adrift –

Bejeweling the small girl
with her very bright eyes,
Standing so silently,
with broken pride.
Her very fair hair
peeking out of her cap,
As she held out her hand
for a switch, a strap.

Snow tumbled from Nik’s mustache
As White Horse high-kicked –
And Pack Pony stood captive
In the frosty grip.

Now Peter Pink Peter
narrowed his eyes –
For had had begun
to recognize
This girl,
this small girl,
this girl in the dazzling light –
This girl had saved
St. Nikolaus’ night.

He bowed a grand bow,
In the powdery fleece –
Laying his one hundred straw switches
at Pack Pony’s feet —

His smile enchanting,
His words well-received,
Peter announced,
“I will no longer –
ever, ever
have a need for these.”

Tiny Boy’s slippers
stirred the stirrups but twice –
He reined in the reins,
As Pack Pony, thrice –
High stepped gingerly,
Up, up, up upon the straw,
To the travelers’ amazement,
Wonder and awe.

St. Nik winked but once,
a twinkling eye –
“Now let us deliver the candles,”
he signified.

Then on again,
into the night –
An enraptured troupe,
guided by light.

One hundred STARS
shimmering bright,
One hundred STARS
on St. Nik’s most special night.
One hundred STARS
to chart, to guide,
One hundred STARS
for this night’s ride.

Rounding the globe
in joyous joy –
Spreading Star Candle secrets
to each girl and boy —

Green Ink – Should Be More Generous
BlueShould Behave
Should Practice Patience in Purple
YellowShould Be More Brave

But written in Red ink,
with exclamations to exclaim –
Was the simplest of Shoulds —
Should Remain Quite the Same!

And as daybreak peeked
over December the Sixth,
The village prepared
in rhapsodist!

Trumpets trumpeted,
Drummers drummed,
Flutists fluted,
And bells were rung.

Red Robe,
Mrs. High Hat,
Saddler, too –
Gold Smith,
Grandpa,
and all the town’s children, too.

Singing
and dancing
Around candles,
all told –
Candles of Stars,
Stars that unfold —

Some inkling,
Some hint,
Some question,
Some truth –
Candles from St. Nik,
Candles with proof –
Candles of colors,
the zenithal prize –
Candles that offer
Words to the wise.

The sun sparkled in glory,
as the snowstorm ceased –
St. Nik smoothed his mustache
as Eve kissed his cheek.

Tiny Boy smiled
as did Peter, too –
At this day’s great Blessings,
And Peace renewed.

So…

Morning Star,
Falling Star,
Shooting Star, too —

Will St. Nikolaus bring a Star to you?

 

The Stars of St. Nikolaus Eve ~ by Sharon Couto was last modified: December 6th, 2015 by Sharon Couto
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The Stars of St. Nikolaus Eve ~ by Sharon Couto was last modified: December 6th, 2015 by Sharon Couto