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When I was growing up in Germany the Christ Child arrived with gifts on Christmas eve, Santa came visiting earlier, on the sixth of December.
My aunt was doing Santa that year. Cousin Walter had overheard the planning and told everyone, after swearing us to eternal silence of course. We weren't about to ruin things by letting on we knew as we're sitting there on the bench by the kitchen table enjoying my favorite Eierkuechelchen, with apple sauce as I recall, while going over the story of the Bishop who gave away his riches and was martyred for his kindness, and his assistant Belzebub with chains and a black bag to take away bad kids.
We wait an awfully long time, even the grown-ups start wondering. But then, downstairs the house door slams, followed by dead silence. Not a sound in the kitchen either. There is a lone step on the stairs. Great-Grandma looks at the door all too apprehensively, her hand clasped over her mouth. Another ominous step is followed by a thundering crash of chains. I get goose-pimply all over and feel my hair rising. Walter starts sobbing.
By the time Belzebub crashes through door, the four of us are huddled at the far end of the bench with our arms around each other, bawling. He jumps into the room, contorted, a chimney sweep black with soot, dragging a huge bag and heavy chains, heading straight for us. A deep, resonant "Zurueck!" orders him back. It's St. Nikolaus, a heavenly, awe-inspiring presence in flowing white robes, a tall Bishop's miter and golden staff, and very much aware of all my bad deeds; and some good ones as well. They're right there in his huge book! He and Belzebub argue over each item, check with the grown-ups on some, but by the time they're done, none of us will have to be dragged off. Belzebub is clearly disappointed. Now and then he even tries to grab us when St. Nikolaus isn't looking, our screams save us every time.
St. Nikolaus gives us Lebenkuchen and cookies, though later we discover that Walter has nothing but coal in his package. He warns us that next year we won't be so lucky unless we behave, then heads down the stairs shooing a reluctant Belzebub in front of him.
That was Santa's last visit. The following year they knew we knew, so the visit was called off.
Good heavens, Gunter. You're lucky to be alive to tell the tale.