I normally love Christmas. I put up a load of decorations. We have a seven foot Christmas tree. I don't even want to tell you how many lights. Not just for the tree, but a few small ornaments for outside too. I don't mind admitting myself that I go a bit overboard. But I just love it. In the gloomiest time of year with the shortest days, it just adds a much needed sparkle and cheer. But this, I don't really know why, I'm just not into it. I think it's a combination of Covid and all the restrictions. Living abroad, everything is harder at Christmas. I can't just nip to my local supermarket to buy a turkey and all the extras, as they don't sell them here. I have to go to an expat shop. What they don't have, I either make myself from scratch (if possible), order it online, or go without! It just feels too much hassle this year, and I just don't want to do it!
Dutch people aren't big on Christmas trees. Some have them, and they are becoming more popular each year too. They tend to have real ones, but they don't go all out and buy nice bushy spruces like we do. They have scrawny things, that they put in front of their window with one measly set of static lights and about ten baubles. Some will even go the extra mile and hang a Christmas star in their window too. A few put static lights on the outside of their house, but strictly speaking, they aren't for Christmas here, they're 'winter lights' so they don't count. Unlike in England, where people now seem to put their Christmas decorations up right at the start of December, that simply isn't done here. They wait until after Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) has been. I get that. It's so it doesn't overwhelm kids or take the magic from Saint Nicholas away, as that's bigger here. (At least, for young children). So the earliest you can put your tree up here is 6th December. There is no law about it, but it's just their custom. So I follow that, as it would be weird not to. If you didn't read my earlier post about Sinterklaas, you can find it here.
So now Saint Nicholas has been and gone, normally I would have put everything up on the 6th and 7th December (I have so much, it takes me two days to do it!). But I am sat here looking at a bare, undecorated house, and I really don't feel like doing it. I don't feel depressed or anything, but I'm just not feeling festive. I just don't want the hassle of it all this year. If last year is anything to go by, it's looking like we'll be going in to a lockdown anyway. So the chance of either visiting or having visitors is slim. That's the whole essence of Christmas. I don't actually want to visit or have visitors either, as I feel the risks are too high, but I most certainly am sick to death of the whole thing, and just wish it as all over by now. Nothing against my in-laws at all (in case they read this!), but I usually don't especially look forward to the Christmas visits simply because of the language barrier, and I don't like the traditional Dutch Christmas dinner. I'm quite happy when it's my turn to have an English Christmas, and simply call in to see them but then return home for my traditional English roast turkey dinner. But without visiting anyone at all, it just doesn't feel like Christmas to me. The first year with Covid, was nice. I really appreciated having that quiet Christmas. No moaning, no obligation to visit, or have visitors round. It was bliss. But now I want the festive moaning, and predictable Monopoly games back. Don't ask! Monopoly - Dutch people tend to play traditional board games on Christmas Day while waiting for their dinner, which is usually done at about 6pm, not lunchtime. My in-laws are the biggest cheaters at Monopoly....but so am I. Let's just say they met their match in me, and have only won one game since I joined the family (that one game was the one and only that I didn't cheat!). Note to in-laws: if you're going to cheat, at least be good at it! So it has become a bit of a new tradition now. Even they themselves say they know I'll win. I tell them at the start of the game they could just congratulate me now and we could just watch tv or something instead. But no, they have to be beaten. They even team up against me! It's no longer funny, just predictable. But I'd give my right arm to be able to do that this year. If it wasn't for Covid, of course. I might have even let them win, for once! But no. None of that is going to happen, and I'm just not in the mood for Christmas this year.
I think I will have to muster up the courage to at least put my tree up, if nothing else, as I know I'll regret not doing it afterwards if I don't. The pictures above are from a previous year. That is only a tiny part of what I do. I leave no stone unturned. Even the stairs get deocorated! Nothing seems right this year, and I simply don't feel like doing it. In a strange way, I miss not seeing the in-laws (that is something I never thought I'd say!), but I certainly don't miss the traditional Dutch Christmas dinner. The Dutch don't really have a traditional dinner as such. But most do what they call 'gourmet'(pronounced gor-met). Don't be fooled, as there is nothing gourmet about it! Dutch people think there is. It is a big platter of various cuts of meat. Mostly fatty chops, mini burgers, mini heavily spiced unidentifiable meats, all accompanied with minimum vegetables - usually a small bowl of chopped peppers, and some chips thrown in the fryer at the last minute. That's right, they eat glorified burger and chips for Christmas dinner! Some have fondu, so I'm told, but most in recent years have adopted gourmet as their 'traditional' dinner. Each person cooks their own meat. It's placed on the table raw, on various platters. There will be grilling/raclette machines on the table, and you all 'grill' (it's not grilling at all, it's frying!) your own meat. How you don't end up with food poisoning astonishes me year after year, as you eat with the very same fork that you use to cook and turn your raw meat on the 'grill' too. I'm really not a fan of it. Can you tell?! But, I do respect it's normal to Dutch people, and that most would probably feel the same about English Christmas dinner as I do about theirs. So, each to their own. In a strange way, I actually wish that was happening this year, as it simply doesn't feel like Christmas without meeting up with everyone. I have nothing to moan about either, and that simply is not right! So I think I'll have to force myself to put the tree up at least, otherwise Christmas won't be happening in our house this year.
What are your Christmas traditions and plans for this year? I don't think I'm the only one feeling this, this year!