Prettige Kerstdagen, allemaal! Merry Chrstmas, everyone!
We started our Christmas day 6 hours ahead of our friends in Ohio, Virginia and Michigan, 7 hours before our family and friends in Minnesota, 8 hours ahead of my mom and gramma, and 9 hours in before our friends in California!
We started the day by picking up Oma and driving to church. The northern part of Holland is predominately Protestant (think Calvin and the Dutch Reformed). The southern part, where we are, is predominately Catholic. And it's not even close. In Helmond, this city of 90,000 people, there is ONE Protestant church. Oma has been going to Bethlehem Kerk for the last 30+ years. Holland is generally post-Christian, so there were a lot of white hairs in the service! They do have a nursery, for ages birth to five. Daniel did great, and dove right in to the toy bin. There were about five other kids there.
The service was completely in Dutch, but I was able to follow almost everything. Most Christmas services do follow the same general story! We sang several carols, a few of them had English counterparts, so I sang in English for those and did my best with the Dutch ones. One fun moment was when the choir sang the song "Peace, peace, peace"...in English!
Daniel was ready for his nap when we got back home, and I thought that was a good idea so I did the same. My headache is much better today, but they always wipe me out. After we woke up, it was time to open our presents. Daniel has been so good about the Christmas tree. He is fascinated by it, but he won't touch it unless we bring him to it. He does point at it a lot, though!
Oma passed out the gifts, which oddly enough, were mostly for Daniel! Daniel received several Dutch books, a laughing monkey, and a little toy lion (get it? Daniel and the Lion) from Oma and Opa, a silverware set from tante Ingrid and ten euros from Oma. I received several Dutch-themed items for our kitchen: oven mitts, tea bag holder and an apron. Niels got a book about Helmond's history and a DVD of 1974, when he was born. We also got Dutch treats, including stroopwafels and chocolate letters. And yes, if you read my Facebook status, it's true that Niels forgot to get me a present, but being married to him is present enough for me! (I'm sensing a theme here, he almost forgot the ring when we were here to get engaged, he forgot to kneel when he proposed...and I thought I was the forgetful one!)
For Christmas dinner, we enjoyed a traditional Dutch dinner, the gourmet (pronounced gore-MET). It seems to be primarily a Dutch thing, I couldn't even find a description on Wiki! The best way I can describe it is like a fondue dinner, except that instead of using a communal cheese pot, there a communal electric grill. Each person has a little pan, maybe 3" wide, to cook their own meat, veggies, eggs and/or pancakes. It's a special occasion-type meal, as it takes a good amount of time to both prep and enjoy.
We've just put Daniel to bed and I'm enjoying yet another bowl of cinnamon ice cream. If only I could figure out a way to bring that back with me...YUM!