Christmas starts in the Netherlands on Sinterklaasdag, 5 December, which by now you know, surely. In fact, Astrid squirms if I have the Christmas tree up before the 5th because, well, you're just not supposed to do it. The kids, you know. Gotta pay attention to the kids and what they expect.
So, speaking of the kids....
...early morning on Wednesday the 5th, we heard a racket outside.
The elementary school across the street had visitors: Sinterklaas and his Black Peters.
See how handy that 300mm lens is from the walkway out our front door!
On Sinterklaasdag this year I celebrated my 3rd anniversary of arriving in the Netherlands. That means this is my 4th Christmas here! And every year I say the same thing: I LOVE that the day of gifts, December 5, is a different day from December 25th, the birth of Baby Jesus!
So, though Astrid and I usually give each other "only" our Christmas meal out on the 25th in our nearby Greek restaurant, overlooking the big canal through town, this year we did in fact give each other gifts:
From Astrid to me, the 3 Van Dale dictionary books for kids!
And my New Year's resolution is to start studying them in earnest.
Small steps will help, you know.
2 of the 3 books Astrid bought on sale through the Dutch Bol.com site, similar to Amazon.com.
From me to Astrid: 2 tickets to a Christmas concert at the St. Martinuskerk in Amersfoort (ca. 30 miles away) though the Dutch VakantieVeilingen auction site...where I got the tickets for €21+€5 fee=€26, a fraction of the real price. The thing is, Christmas concerts are NOT free in Europe. Tickets can cost between €45-75 each. So this was a good deal!
And look at what we saw (too bad you can't also hear it):
We got to the church an hour early and once the doors were opened, I had a chance to take pictures.
But before the concert started, a kind gentleman said to just not take pictures during the concert.
(Hold that thought!)
This was a concert with 2 well-known Dutch pianists: Cor Bakker and Louis van Dijk.
AND a vocal group called CALL. Yes, you got it. The Vocal Group CALL.
It's led by Pieter Jan Leusink, who's in a couple images above.
Now, skip to the intermission (remember, no pictures during the concert).
Cor and Louis and some choir members went to the back of the church to sell their CDs.
I moved in as closely as I could get!
Cor is the tall one; Louis is the one with the red scarf.
And luckily I got some close-ups of some choir members.
All this while the rest of the concert-goers could enjoy refreshment.
And then it was time to go back to our seats....at which time Peter, the PR man for the concert series,
came to me offering a trip to the organ loft in the back of the church to take pictures from on high.
Are you kidding me? I was a kid in heaven!
Look what I saw from up there! And thank God again for the long lens.
(The bottom 2 right images are back down on earth!)
After all that, both Peter and Gerard (the church's PR man) asked me to send them my images.
I did. And look what Gerard did on his church's website!
Click further and you see he included all my collages!
SO, how's that for really getting into the Christmas spirit! WOWSER for me.
We even had some snow on 2 different days....
...enough for someone (???) to make a snowman in our courtyard.
Goed Gekeurd = Well Approved (the sign on the snowman).
After Sinterklaasdag all the goodies go on sale and Ginnie stocks up. I'm no dummy!
We LOVE speculaas "windmill" cookies with our evening koffie after supper.
At €,25/package, we have enough
to sink a ship last awhile.
The ones I normally buy are the little ones (bottom middle). Look at the size difference!
And did I mention with almonds???!!!
And finally, last but not least....
...guess who was the Rummicub Champion for the second year in a row!
Speaking of size difference, everything is looking up this year!
(click on any image to enlarge)
Now, barring something unforeseen, next week I hope to take you to the Christmas market in Köln, just before Christmas!
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
All our hearts are broken over the shooting in Newtown, CT, last week. I had just written the draft for my Vision and Verb post today and was stunned by how it all fit in....
Please join me there for the conversation.