Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Trip to Holland: Day 10 and 11 (Dec 26, 27)

Christmas in the Netherlands is spread over two days: 1e kerstdag (Dec 25) and 2e kerstdag (Dec 26), similar to the Canadians and British celebrations. The traditional Christmas Eve (Dec 24 pm) is not celebrated here, although shops do close earlier that day. The giftgiving that usually takes place on the 24th in the States is done on Dec 5 on Sinterklaas (see the Sinterklaas post).

On the 26th we had nothing planned other than a family dinner in the afternoon so we kind of lounged, slept-in (Jen, Niels was up with Daniel) and kept it nice and simple. It's good to wind down and reflect a bit on a day like that. Around 3.30pm we left for a dinner at Niels' Uncle Jan's place about 25 minutes south. We met the entire family there and after some nice convo-time (in Dutch, so pretty tiring for Jen) we set down for a beautiful and delicious 6-course dinner.

The menu:
  • Course 1: pastry with mushroom like sauce
  • Course 2: Chinese tomato soup (yum!)
  • Course 3: Salad with chicken and pineapple
  • Course 4: Choice of Beef filet, round steak, venison ( in Holland?), pork tenderloin with bacon, potato au gratin, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed pears with cinnamon sauce and green beans
  • Course 5: Apple-flavored ice cream with chocolate
  • Course 6: Coffee or Tea (again, with chocolates)
Yeah, they do know how to eat well here. Especially the Chinese tomato soup was 'erg lekker'. It was a multi-hour event and we kind of dreaded that with Daniel, but every 10 minutes someone of the family wanted to spent some time with our little boy. Needless to say Daniel did very well after the last course he took a well deserved nap until we left at about 10pm.

On the 27th we went to a local English-language church 'Cornerstone Baptist Church' in the nearby city of Eindhoven. There is only 1 non-Catholic church in Helmond and no English-languauge services (in a city of 90,000). Eindhoven has a number of large businesses and a couple of universities and therefore has an expatriate community and those are served by a couple of English-language churches. Cornerstone is one of them and - tech-savvy as we are - their website looked the most professional, so we picked them.

It was a true bapist church with longer prayers and lots of praise, but the pastor (a Dutchman, residing in Dubai) was a very good, but had a - for (Southern) Baptist terms - very laid back preaching style. We met a Dutch-American couple with the 1 year old where the Dutch husband works in IT that met online... Sounds familiar? Since we had one of Niels' groomsmen Pascal waiting for us in Helmond we agreed to talk a little longer with them next week.

At home - after picking up lunch at Subway and Jen's birthday present, NOT going to forget this time - we had a very time catching-up with Pascal, his wife and now two kids. Funny that Pascal's 18mth old daugther and our 12mth old Daniel are the same size. The rest of the day was pretty relaxed and the only other thing we did was upload some of the pictures before went to bed. Gotta love being on vacation...

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