Years end

Matthijs loved getting dressed up in a suit for the festive season: “look Papa, just like your work suit”. He wore it to every party we went to that month; to the school Christmas dinner: “Huh, the girls in my class thought they were the only ones that could dress up nicely, but I showed them” and to Christmas dinner at our house and the New Years party.

But of course the month started with St Nicholas on the 5th. Matthijs and Daniel had been putting their shoes out practically every day because we were rash enough to promise that they could if Daniel stayed dry. He did stay dry after the 5th, but there were (and are) more accidents, especially when he gets cross with us.

On the day itself St Nicholas brought a huge sack of goodies and one of his Black Peters helpfully dropped it off by the front door. The monsters had been on tenterhooks all day so it was difficult to restrain them form unpacking everything at once. Fortunately St Nick was not doing poems with the gifts this year, or they would have exploded with frustration.

Matthijs could of course read the names, so he was in charge of that and handing them out and Daniel got them out of the sack. Falco was utterly uninterested in the presents because he had his snout in the biscuit bowl. He must have eaten at least a kilo of gingernuts.

The next day the boys were still pretty shell-shocked and spent quite a lot of time humming (and sometimes screaching) St Nicholas songs. Matthijs spent the whole day pretending to be a Black Peter: packing things in newspaper and passing out gingernuts.

I gave him a handful of them when we went out to walk the dog and he solemnly passed them out to bemused passers-by, carefully explaining that he was the last Black Peter in the Netherlands and had not gone back to Spain with the Saint because he had had an accident with the coach that had shocked him so much that he had turned white…

He is a funny little chap. While watching a cartoon in which a boy tried to kiss the girls and got rebuffed in no uncertain terms he said scornfully, “Well he’s not much of a kisser. I can do it MUCH better than that and he’s a lot older than me.”

We had a very nice Christmas. We did a classic British Chrimbo dinner with the the whole Dutch side of the family (my lot were in Cornwall for Christmas). There were 11 of us and we did it early afternoon so that we could have a peaceful evenings digest and still put the kiddos to bed on time. We had mushroom soup, turkey, roast potatoes, sprouts with bacony bits, apple sauce and a rice salad with blue cheese dressing on the side. By popular demand there was Trifle for dessert. Trifle has pretty much vindicated traditional British cuisine for the in-laws and they demand it every time we do a party.

After the food we were all properly stuffed and did a round of small prezzos and booted them out. We spent second Christmas day recovering.

The next Sunday there were drinks and chat with all our neighbours round the Christmas tree in the middle of our little square. There was plenty of spiced wine and the better kind of leftovers (including sparklers). This year Matthijs was brave enough to hold a sparkler and had a fine old time with it.

He finally collected on the five stars he accumulated for good behaviour at school: I took him to see “Finding Nemo”. He enjoyed the film and behaved very well, but was most of all impressed by all the popcorn, sweeties and other nice things that you could buy in the cinema.

We invited friends over for Brunch: far and away the handiest appointment if you both have small children. Among the fancy rolls were the kind that Duch people call “Tiger rolls”. When asked if he wanted one Matthijs said “No Mama, those are cheeta rolls, tigers have stripes”. No putting anything over on him…

Trying to limit the consumption of Yoghurt drink to 20 liters per day Marjolein decreed that it could only be drunk with sandwiches (lunch). When we were eating Shoarma with rolls Daniel asked innocently if those were a kind of sandwich and pounced on Marjolein’s unwary “yes”, saying that he could therefore have Yohurt drink with it. That one is going to be a lawyer, definately.

At New Year we actually, really, truly went out to a party. One of Marjoleins Baskeball buddys (biddys? female team) was giving a bash and even our beasts were welcome. Good thing too, as there is no such thing as a New Years babysitter – they are all teenage girls with lives of their own… The organising ladies had cunningly set up a room with cushions all over the floor, fairylights all over the wall and a telly with a stack of DVDs. There was also a corral of teen daughters for advanced beast management and a stack of board games. The monsters had a fine old time and Matthijs even dared to go out and look at the fireworks, but they were still a bit overwhelming for Daniel. Falco was of course indestructible and refused to go to sleep before two in the morning, trying out his new walking skills on the dance floor.

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