As I was writing this blog post I just couldn't shake the feeling that this was just one of those fluff posts. It felt unfinished, short and just blah. A complete and total blah post.
This post still felt so important to me. I just couldn’t put my finger on it….until, finally,it hit me in the shower. It is astonishing how many ideas and ‘aha’ moments come to me in the shower!
This blog post means so much to me because I’m Dutch and I’m missing home right now. This doesn’t happen often. However, it seems that this topic has been part of my life more and more the last few weeks. It has everything to do with booking my ticket to Holland, clients asking me about cultural differences and talking with family & friends back home.
4 years is the magic number.
I haven’t been back to The Netherlands in 4 years!
I sit here writing this looking at a few Christmas decorations (I’m waiting for my stepkids to come back before we decorate the Christmas tree) and It feels so unnatural to start decorating and planning for Christmas in NOVEMBER!
Because, Sinterklaas. Obviously, I’m Dutch!
Yes, Sinterklaas is controversial and a hot topic back home (If you don’t know what it is → Google has all the answers). For me, it brings back memories of waking up in the morning and running to the front door to find a small present from Sinterklaas. December 5th is marked as the main day of celebration when kids get most of their presents before Sinterklaas and his helpers go back to Spain, on their magic steamboat.
In Holland, we start decorating for Christmas after December 5th. In Canada, I start putting up Christmas decorations by the end of November!
The contrast is killin’ me right now.
I get together with a group of Dutch friends in Canada every year to celebrate Sinterklaas.
We did so this past weekend and I got to reminisce about Dutch life. This brings back lots of memories, forgotten foods (I love food!) and cultural differences plus it gets me that more excited about my trip to Holland in April 2017!
Living in a small Canadian town is just not going to be the same as living in a major European city.
Heck, living in 2 different countries is going to create some kind of cultural shock!
The little differences catch me by surprise. Such as seeing a large banner in the window of a toy store advertising 'we wrap your gifts!' Uhm excuse me, why is that marketing material? This should be the norm. Until it hit me! It's not the norm in Canada or at least not where I live in Canada.
If I remember correctly every store in Holland wraps your gifts, 365 days a year! You can walk into a store, comparable to Canada’s Shoppers Drug Mart, and they will wrap your gifts. No last minute late nights at home frantically wrapping because Santa is coming tomorrow. It’s already been done for you. Pure bliss, I tell you.
And before you say anything. Yes, I know all about the pop-up gift wrapping station at the mall. I haven’t ever used it, though. My goal is to enter and exit a mall as fast as possible.
Sinterklaas is officially behind us. Which brings Christmas to the forefront. Admittedly, I have already started planning Christmas in mid-November, bought Christmas presents (plus wrapped those suckers) and started making freezer meals for Christmas dinner at our place.
I'm loving our Christmas tradition. Read about it here!
My husband works 4 weeks on, 4 weeks off. This is also our schedule with my stepkids. As most people know, oil went down the tank and my husband's schedule has been all over the map this year, at one point even almost non-existent. Instead of being away 4 weeks, he was scheduled for 6 weeks during his last rotation of the year.
But, he’s home 2 weeks earlier than planned!
I have to admit, I’m so used to being on my own schedule when my husband is at work and the kids are at their Mom’s that I kinda went into panic mode knowing my time alone was cut short by two weeks. I had so many things planned that are just best done when I’m home alone without any distractions.
Once everybody is home I get pulled into blended family life, making dinners, cleaning (like, all the time... What’s up with kids and being so messy?), making lunches, buying groceries, helping with homework, bedtimes and planning Christmas this rotation. The transition is very interesting.
Those extra 2 weeks would have been nice but it cannot replace time with my husband. Plus I get an extra helper before the Christmas chaos begins.
Finding a balance between my stuff and family life has been hard and I have yet to find that perfect balance. Scratch perfect. Let’s be realistic, that’s never going to happen.
I’m just going to enjoy December and the last few weeks we have in this year. Before I know it, it will be April and I’m already making mental notes for my trip - ‘things to do/people to see while in Holland’.
Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season and enjoy your families, whatever they may look like.