Once again St. Nicholas Day
Has even come to our hideaway;
It won't be quite as fun, I fear,
As the happy day we had last year.
Then we were hopeful, no reason to doubt
That optimism would win the bout,
And by the time this year came round,
We'd all be free, and safe and sound.
Still, let's not forget it's St. Nicholas Day,
Though we've nothing left to give away.
We'll have to find something else to do:
So everyone please look in their shoe!?
(Anne Frank, "The Diary of a Young Girl," December 6, 1944)
The last line of the poem refers to the practice in the Netherlands (and beyond) of children leaving shoes outside their bedroom door on the eve of St. Nicholas Day in hopes that the dear fellow would drop in them a few coins or pieces of candy — or, for naughty children, a lump of coal.
The poem radiates young Anne's hope and courage and cheerfulness, virtues that were sorely tested in the extremity of her family's circumstances. Thus, the poem serves as a timeless lesson of perseverance amid great dangers and difficulties. It is indeed a relevant exhortation for all of us on this St. Nicholas Day.