the dutch get into the holiday spirit a lot sooner than i'm used to. as i mentioned in a previous blog entry, the christmas lights went up downtown a few days before we americans would celebrate halloween. now, i know that if you were to go to target or safeway or any number of american stores sometime around halloween, you'd almost certainly find a few christmas decorations and trees to buy. but the majority of you probably wouldn't buy anything yet, because you still have halloween and thanksgiving to think about. we as americans tend to think about christmas much later... the stores wish that we thought about christmas sooner, but truth be told, we as a nation don't really get into the holiday spirit until after thanksgiving. (and then what happens the very next morning after thanksgiving? all the stores open at 4:00 a.m.! they just can't WAIT for us to get in there and start buying crap! and we're so excited to get christmas rolling that we fall for it!)
the dutch, on the other hand, don't celebrate halloween and they definitely don't celebrate thanksgiving. and since their gift-giving day falls on st. nicholas day (5 december, nearly 3 weeks before christmas), their shopping and decorating season starts really a full month earlier than i'm used to.
and besides, the days very quickly become very short, and the weather is pretty dull and gray, so it gives us all something to look forward to: christmas lights and gift giving and sinterklaas songs. it's all so uplifting!
so the day after adam and i celebrated our "second thanksgiving" (see previous post), we got out all of our christmas stuff and decked the halls. (last year we weren't sure if we wanted to celebrate christmas or not because we were so damn lonely, and we didn't bring any christmas decorations with us and we were too broke to go out and buy anything. but bob and rae, thoughtful and loving as they are, sent us a nice big box with our stockings and some christmas oven mitts and christmas hand towels and a frosty-the-snowman to hang up and a whole mess of other stuff that totally made our house feel festive. we went out the next day and bought ourselves a tree from the market for only 10 euros, and since it's a real live tree in a pot, it got to live on our patio for a year, and we get to use it again this year! hooray for recycling!)
adam lit a fire and i hung the stockings by the chimney with care, we put out the christmas tea towels and put the lights up, and now we're all set for the holidays! season's greetings, everyone!