Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas 2009

For Christmas this year, stayed in Rotterdam, because we had a trip planned back to the US for January. Last year it was really nice to be able to go up to Norway and spend Christmas with Vegar’s family. This year would be nowhere as adventurous, but it was a great time nonetheless.

We found a little Christmas tree at the grocery store across the street. It was cheap, and small enough to carry home, so it worked for us. We placed it on the end table and wrapped a red blanket around the bottom, since we lack a proper tree skirt. It sort of resembled the Charlie Brown tree, but we liked it.

One small difference I noticed is that the candy canes in Holland (and Belgium, so maybe more countries as well) are all strawberry flavored. In the US they are traditionally peppermint. Though now they have tons of flavors (as with most things) including even Starburst or Sweet Tart flavors. Also, because the Dutch celebrate Sinter Klaus on December 5, they do not start decorating for Christmas until the 2nd week in December. It seems a bit late, since in the US we usually decorate just after Thanksgiving Day.

It is tradition in Chad’s family to cook a cured ham on Christmas Eve, along with potato salad, so you have something good to eat during the day on Christmas while you cook, and for leftovers. They also make this fabulous food called treca, which is pickled beets and horseradish. It’s a spicy sort of sauce that you eat with the ham, and we both love it.

Thanks to my boss, Juan (pronounced like the French Jon), we found a British man who owns a butchery in Rotterdam selling typical UK meats, sausages and pies. His website is called, haha, I love it. We ordered a 3 KG ham from him, which he delivered free of charge. On Christmas Eve we cooked it, and made the potato salad & treca. It was our first time for making each of them, and they were all delicious, especially the ham.

We were happy to be able to share Christmas dinner with our friends Andrew (Toyer) & Dayrina. We ordered a turkey from the same butcher we had used for Thanksgiving. On Christmas Eve we picked up the bird, and again carried it home in a backpack on a bike. We also made the bread stuffing again. Chad is really getting the hang of this, and it tastes great. We also had cranberry sauce and crescent rolls, and we made gravy from the turkey drippings. Toyer also made mashed turnips and carrots, & sage and onion stuffing, which are typical in the UK. Both were great.

Toyer also brought a typical Christmas thing from the UK, Christmas Crackers. They are paper tubes that have a small gift inside. Two people “compete” and one holds each end of the tube, sort of like a wishbone. They you pull it quickly and it makes a cracking sound. The person who has the end with the toy gets the price. Inside, there is also a small paper crown that you must wear the rest of the night.

For desert, we had a whole spread of tasty options. Chad and I cooked another pumpkin pie (we can’t get enough!). Dayrina made a delicious chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Toyer brought Christmas pudding from the UK, which is a dense cake with raisins and other fillings, sort of like a fruitcake. It comes in a bowl shape, & you turn it upside down on a plate & slice it and serve it. You can put chocolate syrup or another topping over it if you like. He also brought some other small pastries which are round with a filling, and reminded me of fig newtons. Everything was delicious!

After dinner, we went to relax on the couch with full bellies. Ironically, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie was on TV at that time. So, we watched it for old time’s sake. I don’t think Dayrina found it too funny, but the rest of us were laughing.

Chad and I called to Skype with our families. My family was in Houston this year, so I also got to see my Texas relatives, and Christy and Vegar, which was great. It was nighttime in Holland, but in Houston they were just preparing their dinner, which included smoked turkey and cornbread stuffing; a true Texas feast. We also got to Skype with Chad’s family, in Wheeling. It was nice to be able to both see and hear our families, and made us feel not so far away. Toyer and Dayrina also popped in to say hi and meet our families.

We really enjoyed our Dutch Christmas, though we are also looking forward to our trip home to the US in January. This is when we plan to celebrate and spend time with our family in person. Mmmm… I can already taste the Fat Heads sandwiches now!


Pics from Christmas:

No comments: