The news and radio shows had been building up to it for over a week. And now, Sinterklaas was finally approaching The Netherlands after a long journey from his home in Spain. We would be there (along with thousands of other families) to greet him, as he arrived at the Goes marina.
With beautiful old Dutch canal-homes as the backdrop, three large boats came sailing into the U-shaped docking area, filled with presents, and jubilant dancing helpers (with their faces smeared black). As the last boat came into view, Sinterklaas himself appeared, complete with a huge red hat, a matching coat, and a meter-long beard. The children watching from behind the metal barriers were going wild, and althought Lukas wasn't exactly sure what was going on, he shared their excitement.
After the helpers greeted each of the children and filled each child's tiny velvet sack with candy, it was time for Sinterklaas to mount his white horse and lead the procession - past hundreds of parents and children, bundled up and waiting patiently along the sides of the cobblestone streets - and into the main market square.
This festivities culminate early on December 6th, when children wake up early to check their boots, in anticipation of the gifts that Sinterklaas has left (after having left carrots out for Sinterklaas' horse the night before).
I always find that one of the best parts of living "overseas" is experiencing the different traditions and holidays. Long live Sinterklaas!:-)