This week most of our international friends will clear out, heading to Schiphol en route to Canada, America, Britain, Sweden, Germany, or wherever else home and family are to be found. For the third year straight, we’ll remain here, for the great hush that seems to take over between now and the bombardment that is New Year’s Eve. I miss celebrating the holidays with my family, but I do love the winter days and nights in Delft.
Sinterklaas has come and gone (back to Spain, where he enjoys the citrus fruits). I saw him with his Pieten in a den Haag snack shop around 5 December. (My parents’ local newspaper in New Jersey recently ran a short story alerting all of Monmouth County that over here in Amsterdam, there are hordes of people in blackface with Afro wigs and red lipstick; and that there are people who have noticed this is racist and call for change. To New Jersey: all of this is true.)
My favorite sign of impending Christmas took place on Tuesday: Lichtjesavond. I feel like a happy kid on the night they light up Delft. There are torches on the canals, colored lights on the streets, and this year—there was even a burro near the Oude Kerk.
The olie bollen guys were hopping and the streets were so packed with people (someone later told me 60,000, but I have no idea if that’s true), it took us long minutes to make our way to a friend’s house for some preparatory Swedish Glogg.
The only sad thing about Lichtjesavond is how brief it is. The town sets it all up that day, and vendors close right around 9 PM. All too soon we were standing in the cold with nothing to do but slide on the icy bricks of the Markt.
The train station construction site stuck a giant tree in a brace of concrete and labeled it with a painted sign reading: X-MAS. And one recent morning we awoke to a tiny (tiny) dusting of the white stuff on the deck outside. It’s funny to watch when it snows here. The Dutch bike easily through pouring rain, heavy sleet, and ice; but a thin coating of snow sends panic through the streets and inflicts chaos on the train routes. I was photographing our canal when a bike slid past me, its rider indicating that he could not stop. This turned out to be my friend Felix.
I’d be happy with a bit more snow, but not next weekend… when my brother’s flight comes in from LA! We look forward to showing him around our home, and to welcoming all our friends when they return in January.