Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christmas is Around the Corner!

With Christmas only a month away, a new and really difficult challenge for me lays ahead! Christmas parties, dinners and just all around festive celebrations are all centered around food! And lots of it! Yeeks!! This will be the true test of my strength, stamina and self discipline.

Later on today is Toronto’s 103rd Santa Claus Parade. A huge parade will pass by thousands of awaiting children, fulfilling their Christmas dreams. I have great memories of my family Christmas celebrations and although the presents were great, the celebration of food played a central role.

The Dutch December tradition includes 2 huge celebrations: Sinterklaas and Christmas. Sinterklaas is on December 5th and then Christmas on the 25th. Both of these celebrations have wonderful foods associated with them. And here in Canada, by the time Christmas comes around, my mom would place the foods from both celebrations out on the same table. Our Christmas celebration went as follows: ( and still mostly true today in our family) First thing in the morning we were able to sneak out and get our stocking and take them back to our beds to unpack them; full of sweets and little mini toys. Next we had to all get dressed and get ready for breakfast. The tradition was we were aloud to open presents only after we’ve had breakfast, all the dishes were cleaned up, kitchen clean, and mom had decorated the * after breakfast coffee/tea sweets table*. This table was the crazy table! It was full of sweets and cookies that would make any one scream hip hip hooray! *The picture above is an example of the treats that would be on this table! We had to open the presents one by one, making sure to say out loud, ooohh. & aaaahhh and netto! All the while getting up and going back to table to fill our little snack plates of wonderful Dutch Christmas/Sinterklaas treats. My dad always said the same thing every year when my mom finished decorating the treat table.. “ oh oh oh.. you over-did it again! It’s TOO much!! Leid!!” no wonder I grew up with a sweet tooth, and by the time I was 12 years old, every molar in my mouth had a cavity as well as fat and overweight!

This wonderful table tradition continued to appear right up to the year before my mother died in December 2005. My mom died at Christmas time! On Christmas Day, December 25th, 2005, I was holding my mothers hand in Intensive Care and watching her helplessly slip away in front of my eyes, not being able to do a thing about it! She finally was out of her misery and passed away the morning of the 28th. Now Christmas is a very, very emotional time for me and all my sisters. My younger sister has been leaving for Jamaica in December for 2 weeks, ever since this day, to avoid the sad feeling that now comes up with Christmas.

Time does heal though!

Thank god I have wonderful sisters, and we do now continue with the celebrations every though both my parent are gone!

Why did I write this blog entry??.. Well I just found out! ... To remember, and remind myself why my mom died!

She really died because of an element called ‘Fatty Liver Disease’ with this your Liver and then Kidneys shuts down. This you contract from over-eating to many fatty high sugar foods all your life !!. Like the ones at Christmas! So now I have once again found my reason to not freak out at Christmas, and just enjoy my family.. And not the fatty foods, as I do not want to die the same death as my mom!

I just love writing in my blog.. It’s a great therapist!


Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy,

You're right on time with your Sinterklaas Special! Yesterday Sinterklaas returned once again to the Dutch Territories, on his old steamer, with all his Black Peterkins (assistants) and his white horse. Non-Dutch readers my think by now we all went mad in the Netherlands, but the legendary Saint Nicholas actually was a living bishop once in the 9th century, in Myra, Turkey. It takes too much time to go into the history of how this Bishop ended up returning to Holland every year to celebrate his birthday with us on the eve of December the fifth, but it works a bit like Santa Claus, without any connection to Christmas, though. Anyway, the crazy thing is that you can find all the Sinterklaas Candy in the stores from early September, nowadays! So you have to overlook all the special chocolates, cookies, speculaas, taaitaai, banketstaven, pepernoten, borstplaat, schuimpjes and everything else for at least three months. An then we go straight into the bad Christmas stuff...
I don't even particularly like all the extremely sweet sweets, bur it a bit of a Aha-Erlebnis to get a taste from it every year for nostalgic reasons. That makes it even harder tot resist it. But this time I have you to think about: you can't have it, and so can't I, being an addict too. What can we do? Buy chewing gum in the shape of a Zwarte Piet? Make appelmoes with no added sugar, but with a drop of Calvados to get the soft boiling going? I'll check the local book store, if I can find a Weight Watcher-like recipe for Sinterklaas-treats! Hang in there, Wendy, you're doing great!
Marianne from Amsterdam

Paul said...

Very interesting, as always. I share completely all those memories and cravings for traditional Dutch sweets at Christmas. I am a average sized person but last Christmas I gained twelve pounds in the two months leading up to the Holidays. This year it will be cinnamon and aniseed-flavoured tea, and that's about it. Maybe some pepernoten. A few.