01 January 2013

Christmas holiday

Twenty-two friends, eight relatives, and eight pets! That was my score for the christmas holidays. I was already accused of being an American tourist who "does" a country or continent at lightning speed. Maybe there's some truth to it. But I liked the full program.

I wanted to go back to the Netherlands for christmas. The year before it hadn't worked out that way due to illness. This time I managed to stay healthy!

In a way, I'm a traditional girl, so I tend to stick to the format of one christmas day with one parent, and the other with the other parent. And whatever other people show up. Yes, reader, if you're not Dutch; in the Netherlands we don't do Boxing Day; we just call the 25th and 26th of December 1st and 2nd christmas day. And for those whose parents are still together, but who are together with someone themselves too: it works as well with own family one day, in-laws the other day. So that was easy: two days booked. And the rest of the time was for friends: there was an initiative by former VU colleagues to meet up after christmas in an Amsterdam pub, and of course I wanted to see the likes of Roelof and Monique.

I won't describe the whole holiday; that would take page after page. But allow me to illustrate with anecdotes: I admired Roelof’s newly-tidied living room. I enjoyed Erik interrogating Micha on art. I shared hiking memories with Henco and Maaike. I got dragged to the beach and the dunes by Nienke and Jeroen.

On the beach, with the Scheveningen skyline in the distance

"De Wassenaarse slag"; beautiful dune field

I had a dinner down memory lane with my old MSc supervisor Dick, his wife Yolande, and my ex Luka; we had had dinner some 12 years ago with that very same company. This time the event featured much more grey hair! I jumped up and down in their house the next morning, eager to visit my mother. Who turned out to be pretty in pink for the occasion. Then the next day I witnessed a performance by my five-year-old niece, who was playing some toy instrument while wearing heart-shaped sunglasses. I also climbed a tree with her and my two nephews, under the watchful eye of my father and his wife. I got reminded of old music and introduced to new music by my sister.

Christmas dinner with my sister's extended family

My niece Nora on my lap

I did some two-way petting at Monique’s place, as both her dogs and her cat were glad to see me, and wanted lots of attention. We also figured out how one best gets from the Netherlands to York. Then I went back to my mother. We even went shoe-shopping, successfully! Who would have thought. Then I walked through dark, rainy Amsterdam only to find out that the cheese shop in the Runstraat didn’t sell Vieux Lille.

Heaven: a well-stocked cheese shop

With some other kind of (smelly) cheese I then walked to brewery de Prael, where I met ten old colleagues. Some of these were now postdocs, some lecturers, some consultants, and one had turned to art. And one didn’t show up! As that was the one I had asked to put me up for the night, my plans changed, and I ended up in a house filled with cats, in another boy’s room full of football posters. I hope I didn’t leave the smell of my cheese. And then it was time to go home! With warm memories, cat and dog hair all over my clothes, and a bag full of cheese I accepted the trip back. I may try to lose the hair, but I trust the cheese will last for months, and the memories for even longer!

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