This time it took longer for Juno’s spirits to recover. Over a month passed before her next attempt at big Magic.
Doris’s dad was Dutch. Since Doris’s arrival he’d made it his mission to keep the old-world tradition of Santa Claus’s predecessor, known as Saint Niklaas or Sinterklaas, alive by dressing up in a big furry coat and fake furry beard the afternoon of every December 5. He’d also made himself a giant bishop’s miter out of cardboard. Back in the old country Sinterklaas had an assistant called Zwarte Piet, which means Black Peter. This was the guy who carried the gunny sack with the gifts and went down chimneys to deposit them. Hence the soot that gave him his name. Meanwhile Niklaas himself sensibly entered houses by the door and read from a large golden book whether the children he’d come to see had been good or bad that year.
Doris’s mom refused to walk ’round the neighbourhood with a big sack and her face painted black. Her husband’s heart bled at the thought that half the tradition should be lost, so he decided to merge the two figures. His blackened face was contrasted pretty effectively by the white furry beard. Since he had to carry his own sack and also the bishop’s crosier that tradition demanded, he figured he’d lose the book and read instead from scraps of paper he’d pull out of his hat. He also pulled out all the stops for that miter, with battery-run flashlights in different colours that were pretty novel back then. But unfortunately the whole effect was of a guy who’d been dragged through mud, hit by fragments of exploding sheep, and finally had a traffic light dropped on his head. You could say that Mr Martin gave a whole new meaning to the concept of preserving tradition, by changing it beyond recognition. He looked deranged.