Having a father in the Canadian Armed Forces plopped me down into a slightly different culture: West Germany ― the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany). While listening to the radio a few years ago I heard a piece about whether or not it's cool to let the little ones open their gifts the night before Christmas. This brought back memories: some bright, some dark.
As is the tradition in that great nation, opening the boxes and wrappings is done the night before. A then little one, me, not only did not complain but decided then that Germany is one great nation. I remember well one Christmas where our landlord and his wife came up to say hi and to present us with presents. I remember mine: a Matchbox toy of an early 20th century automobile.
Roll back a few years to my first Christmas in Germany. Santa Claus back in 1960s Deutschland was not a big thing ― if you'll pardon the expression. Saint Nick, however, was. Well, let me tell you what that man did to this then five year old. One evening my parents summoned me to our apartment's entrance. Standing inside the door was a tall figure, a woman (probably a teenager), dressed up in full Saint Nick attire. My mother said "look dear" as she pointed at my shoes which were parked neatly on the mat. I saw it, an inanimate thing in one of my shoes... a lump of coal. ("Noooo!")