Sweet memories from my childhood are linked to Saint Nicholas, the discreet and generous Saint.
I remember once we were waiting for him; it was pretty late and he was not coming. At our parents' suggestion we went to our neighbors to see if Saint Nicholas visited them already. For us it was a senseless idea - how could Saint Nicholas come to them and to us not yet? We were so close to them. We went there and - surprise - he already left the presents for them! We couldn't imagined what trace did Saint Nicolas follow that year: he was already to our neighbors, but not to us and when we left our flat we didn't meet him on the stairs. Strange...
I was very disappointed, thinking that maybe that year he would skip us; maybe we weren't good enough to receive anything from him. Imagine our surprise when we turned back home and we've found the door half opened and gifts were there, in our boots. And of course Saint Nicolas was again so silent and discreet that our parents didn't even notice that he already visited us!
This year was Ilaria's 1st experience with gifts in boots. Of course she is still too young to expect anything yet, but I hope in future she will feel emotions at least so intense as mine when I was of her age.
Next day I thought it would be nice to go to church so we would have listened once again the beautiful story of Saint Nicolas' life. For nowadays it is a too great expectation to think that on Saint Nicolas day you would hear the priest talking about Saint Nicolas life. There were some more important things to be discussed there, in that particular day, when lots of people gathered there to celebrate Saint Nicolas (4% of Romanians are named Nicolae or Nicoleta). The priest read Metropolitan's Laurentiu Streza sermon and then he additionally spoke freely mainly about the great danger that is about to happen with orthodoxy: a new church is about to arise - the "stylist" church, formed by orthodox priests which refused to change the calendar, which still keep the "old style calendar" and now they are building churches of their own.
For me everything sounded like a bad advertisement, desperately saying "keep staying with us! they aren't as good as we are!". It was even said by the Metropolitan: "They don't have apostolic succession and therefore their religious services are not accepted by God."! For me it was a shock to hear such words outspoken by a priest, while in Bible is stated: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20).
I think also Ilaria didn't agree with their ideas, so she interfered with priest's sermon twice, covering his voice for few seconds, of course, with people around starring at us. Both times the pacifier saved us!