Here in the Netherlands we don’t really know Thanksgiving (Black Friday very well! ;)) but Thanksgiving is actually the kick-off of a period of celebration, of getting together and having a good time. When the days get shorter, the nights get longer and the temperature outside drops considerably, we like to sit inside, nice and warm with a cup of tea and watch classic movies with the whole family (“Love Actually” for example, one of my All-time favourites).
For a large part of the world, this holiday season starts with Thankgsgiving. Here in the Netherlands, the first real holiday is celebrating the umpteenth birthday of Saint Nicolas a.k.a. Sinterklaas on the 5th of December. Of course Christmas follows and we end with a smashing New Year’s Eve celebration. This period is full of love, friends and family, good food (and of course we intend to exercise these calories off in the new year) and so on and so on. In short, a vibrant period with a touch of gift-buying-stress.
I am always very much looking forward to this period because our family is incredibly bonded and therefore, family visits are always extremely enjoyable. The reason we are such a close-knit club is probably due to the fact that we live quite far apart and can only see each other a few times a year and sometimes not at all.
My family is Bosnian in origin and the civil war in the 1990s tore my family apart and as a result they have moved all over the world. The closest relatives live in Germany, four hours away from us, so it is an obvious choice to spend the holidays with them, sometimes with the addition of the family from America. So that is quite a lot of people, and the house then is certainly packed; there is at least one mattress in every room for someone to sleep on, and the availability of the bathroom is then drastically reduced, but most of the time, we are all sitting around the big table discussing what we have experienced since the last time we saw each other. This is definitely one of the highlights of the year for me.
The holidays of 2019 were extra special; I celebrated this with my Australian family, Down Under, where it is, if you don’t know, in the middle of summer. Imagine this: Christmas on the beach; everywhere you hear carols singing about snow and cold but I was relaxing in my bikini. The Christmas tree was decorated and also Father Christmas, wearing his well-known suit, was here and there in the shopping mall (where there is an air-conditioning 😉 ) A very strange but fun experience!
The holiday season of 2020 has an even bigger twist; it is clear that I can’t go back to Australia this winter, but I can’t spend the holidays with my family from Germany either… Luckily we live in a time where technology is so developed that we can talk to each other and look at each other at any time of the day, but of course this is by no means the same as taking each other in our arms.
Of course this is not just for me, millions of people will have to spend these holidays without their families and that will feel very different and strange compared to the warm holidays of previous years. Nevertheless, these holidays will still be pleasant , even if it is not the way we imagined it. Traditions will continue; the smell of Christmas cookies will fill our houses and those classic movies will certainly be watched, just like normal. The holidays are there to stimulate joy and to celebrate being together, so have some extra fun with the people who ARE with you, hug them a little tighter and longer and let go of the drama of 2020, because we are almost at the finish line and at the beginning of a new year.