It was always the church-bells. A city filled with them.
My parents were in the U.S. Foreign Service. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, I grew up in Bonn, the capital of the then West Germany. From our family's two-floor apartment, a field away from the Rhine River, I could hear the pealing of many church-bells.
It was the pealing of those bells on the morning of St. Nicholas Day morning that especially appealed to a young boy's anticipation. St.Nicholas (Nikolaos of Myra 270 A.D. – 6 December 343) is the Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox Christian patron saint of brewsters and brewers. And the predecessor to the modern Santa Claus. Every 6 December morning, those bells meant ... chocolates!
Chocolates that St. Nicholas had stuffed in the wooden shoes we had placed out the night before, to welcome him to our house. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that, upon a couple of occasions, St. Nicholas filled my shoe with lumps of coal, for purported bad behavior.
I never did catch a glimpse of the man.
Why not, today, thank a brewer for her beers? But not with a lump of coal.
Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night, Holy Night): digitally transferred from an out-of-print German record album of the early 1960s. That record was played often during the Christmas season in the Cizauskas household. The scratches can attest to that.