Nicholas: A Garland of Tales

for the Nights Before Christmas

adapted from Pamela Grenfell Smith

This collection of St. Nicholas tales could be told on the seven nights before or after St. Nicholas Day, or on seven nights closer to Christmas.

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Western St Nicholas

Byzantine St Nicholas

The Sixth Tale

Indeed, it was good to be alive in Myra when Nicholas was Bishop. The city prospered because the sailors loved it and came there to trade and to repair their ships. The people who ran the city knew that Nicholas was keeping an eye on them. Those who were kind and wise grew stronger, and those who were greedy and wicked were ashamed and tried to mend their ways. And, year after year, a remarkable thing kept happening in Myra. Someone gave secret presents that eased the sufferings of the poor. But nobody knew who was doing it!

The poor couple whose two daughters had received those mysterious bags of gold had one more daughter, and when she was all grown up and ready to leave home they decided to find out who had helped them. So it happened that one more time as Nicholas walked down by the harbor he came upon their lighted window and heard the mother's voice weeping and worrying.

Nicholas looked in the window. Only the mother was awake. The youngest daughter slept with her head in her mother's lap. The two older daughters and their husbands slept on the floor with their children next to them. How many grandchildren were there now? Surely he could see at least three! In his heart he spoke a great word of thanksgiving to God who created them, loved them, and knew their names. Then once again he tossed a bag of gold onto the cold hearth.

But the father of this family was hiding and watching in the garden, and when he saw the ashes fly up, he ran to greet Nicholas. "My friend, my benefactor," he exclaimed, "Please let me see your face!" And then the whole family came streaming out with torches and plates of sweet cakes and pomegranates. No one had been asleep at all!

Nicholas knew he was caught. He threw back his hood. "It's Nicholas!" they shouted. "It's Nicholas the Bishop! Come and see! Come and see! Bishop Nicholas is the one who's been helping us!"

All the neighbors woke up. Soon the street was full of people saying to one another, "The silver, the loaves of bread, all those blankets — look, it was Bishop Nicholas who brought them! See? See his great sack of presents?" More and more people joined the crowd, thanking Nicholas for gifts without number. As for the sailors, when they heard the news they shouted it all over the harbor. The crews of every ship ran to join the commotion. They brought food and wine from the taverns to place a great feast around Nicholas, their friend.

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Nicholas: A Garland of Tales is also available as a simple drama

Adapted from Nicholas: A Garland of Tales for the Nights before Christmas, by Pamela Grenfell Smith, Copyright © 1995 Pamela Grenfell Smith. Used under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. You are free to use and adapt it so long as

  1. you attribute authorship and copyright to Pamela Grenfell Smith,
  2. your use is non-commercial, and
  3. you may not copyright your adaptation of this work under a more restrictive copyright.

Illustrations copyright © 2002-2009 St. Nicholas Center All rights reserved.

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