Actually he came to Antwerp on his boat last weekend (or the one before? I dunno, cut me some slack, this is the first year the holiday has had any kind of significance for me beyond my enduring cringing at all the black-faced Zwarte Piets capering around the city centers and televisions).
So now the Sinterklaas movies are starting to play for the kiddies on television.
Sinterklaas will be in some schools and malls to take pictures with the little ones.
Zwarte Piets will be dancing and fooling and dropping by the schools handing out little letter cookies to the students.
While we’re talking about the little letter cookies (or sometimes there are little iced cookies too but I don’t know the dutch word for them so I can’t find an image), let me say that about now these cookies are everywhere. I’ve yet to eat any, but I imagine they’re like animal cookies in flavor, so pretty bland. Wherever you go, if you have a child with you, you seem to get some of these cookies. Even, say, if you have your not quite 4 month old baby in the dining area of Ikea. Some brightly dressed character (it was almost Halloween then, so I think it was a witch) will walk by and drop a small handful of letter cookies on your table, despite the fact that obviously my child won’t be eating those cookies unless I crush them and mix them in his bottle and even if I did, GLUTEN!!!!! So no, even if I did, he won’t be eating them unless they’re gluten free cookies, which I highly doubt.
Have you ever eaten baby gluten free cookies?
The only reason they go over so well with babies is because babies don’t know what a real cookie is supposed to taste like.
So, when you’re out and about in town, it’s not surprising to see hired people passing out some cookies to kids.
What I haven’t ever seen, until today, is random old people randomly digging letter cookies from their purses to hand to a teacher who was on a walk with her class of first graders.
It was just one old lady, granted, and was she ever determined. I saw the kids walking two by two, all wearing neon yellow safety vests, crossing the street with 2 teachers and a third teacher bringing up the rear and then, just behind, shuffling along at full elderly speed came a woman with a shopping bag on wheels. she hailed down the teacher and proceeded to give 2 cupped handfuls of cookies to the teacher for the kids.
The teacher thanked her, although she looked a bit daunted.
I don’t think they’re allowed to give kids cookies from stranger’s pockets in the schools here.
And part of me thought the whole thing was very sweet.
While the other part of me found the whole thing disturbingly similar to how Jack Nicholson always carried bacon around in his pocket for the dog in As Good As It Gets.