Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sinterklaas is Here!

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans! And yes, after being here for over 7 years, we still do miss Thanksgiving.  Some tidbits of information:  yes, sometimes we do celebrate Thanksgiving here.  However, we have to special order our bird from the butcher here.  It comes frozen, from France (I have no clue why!) and it costs a whopping €70.00.

But I have to say that this is my favorite time of the year here.  It started this year on Saturday, 12 November when Sinterklaas arrived by boat back to the Netherlands.

I cannot do the story any justice when Mr. David Sedaris can read it to you!  There is no video content and it is about 15 minutes in length.  And I can't take credit for discovering this from Mr. Sedaris, my sister-in-law, Vodka, got me this for my birthday one year.  The story also is it is pretty accurate. However, in defense of the Dutch, the Black Petes (called Zwarte Petes in Dutch) are now just happy people.  The parents, that I know, don’t tell their children that they are going to be shoved in a bag and taken back to Spain!  Sinterklaas is so imbedded into Dutch culture that if I ever have to move from here, I miss him dearly!

That's me the Sinterklaas gang our first year here.
Sinterklaas always comes to school on December 5th

 So what happens when the children grow older? Here’s what the Dutch do and, now, so do we:

  • Place the family’s names into a hat 
  • Everyone draws one name from the hat, if they draw their own name, they draw again
  • You buy a gift for your person
  • You must write (1) a rhyming poem about this person and (2) as if you are Sinterklaas
  • And, finally, you must make a “surprise” package

Everything is pretty easy up until this last item.  Here are few ideas from past several years that my family has done for me:

The first year, Vermouth picked my name.  She was little and needed a some help with what to make.  Gin suggested that she make a “bee” and inside the bee’s stomach, put broccoli inside all around the gift.  So I had to touch the broccoli in order to get my gift out.  And there’s always a backstory of why the surprise is created – I like broccoli but it doesn’t like me.

Another year, Gin selected my name and she “borrowed” my Snoopy and Woodstock salt and pepper shakers to create a surprise.  I had no idea that they were missing; and in her poem she wrote that something that was precious was missing and I didn’t even notice!  I like to collect “unique” salt and pepper shakers, which my girls find … well … odd.

But the one person who tries to tell you that he is not crafty is The Shaker.  He is so crafty! He made “The Laundry Fairy” for me one year.  Vermouth dubbed me The Laundry Fairy several years ago and it has become the running joke of the family. I have difficulty sharing the washing machine – I fear shrinkage and things turning pink in the wash. Now, over time she has lost her luster (and her wand) but she still sits on top of the washing machine and dryer.

She had a bottle of perfume inside her dress
For this year, we picked our names last weekend.  I will post the news and photos on December 6th.

The Martini Knitter

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