Once kitted out, he’d shoulder his sack full of cookies, his wife’s only contribution. He then called at all the houses in the neighbourhood with kids, which was most, to the total bewilderment of the older kids and naked terror of the youngest. The adults of Hastings-Sunrise, many of them immigrants and the rest the offspring of immigrants, reckoned the updating of old-world traditions was a Good Idea. Except for the only other Dutch family in the area, who hid behind the couch every year and pretended they weren’t home.

Another part of the old tradition bit the dust a couple years before these events, when Doris made friends with Juno. Juno’s birthday was December 6. Ancient Dutch scheduling didn’t stand a chance. It was decided by Doris and her mom that the Sinterklaas expedition would become the traditional way by which the Martins would present Juno with their gift. They’d set out together and go to Juno’s house first. After Juno had recovered, Doris and her mom always stayed for hot chocolate and birthday cake, while Doris’s dad went on to shock and awe the rest of the street’s kids.

It was 1953 and this particular December 6 Juno turned six. Grandma was throwing her first party for her. All the kids except Doris were already there, which saved Mr Martin a whole lotta walking and knocking that year. The intense concentration of bafflement that hit him when he lumbered in all but floored him, though.