It feels like endless weeks of holidays around here. Being Americans that live in The Netherlands we end up celebrating some of their holidays and some of ours. And occasionally they overlapse. Sinterklaas celebrations last from the middle of November until the 5th of December... and Santa Claus celebrations last from Thanksgiving until the New Year. In years past we toned down the Sinterklaas stuff, some years she only put out her shoe once and we didn't bother with "pakjes avond" (present night) on the 5th. But now that our kid is in a Dutch elementary school we didn't have a choice but to join in the 3 week celebration. Every night she would place her shoe at the door with a drawing (and sometimes a song) for Sinterklaas & his Zwarte Pieten, and when she checked the next morning their would either be something yummy to eat or a present. This takes more effort than you think, trying to fill a shoe for 3 weeks and keep the budget down considering our big holiday is still to come. I managed though, picking up little toys on sale and even reusing things. Yes, I did, I reused things she forgot she had, like unopened packages of stickers, strawberry milk mix, and even fruit we had in the kitchen. (Keep in mind she's 4 yrs old.) There were also a couple close calls, come on, it's hard to remember to fill the shoe every night, luckily we never let her down. And her reaction when she found a burlap bag of presents by the door on "pakjes avond" was priceless. But because the holiday carries into Christmas celebrations, we've had to put off the Christmas tree and Elf on the Shelf until this weekend. We really enjoy the Elf on the Shelf, this will be our 3rd year! So last night I happily read my daughter the book, and this morning she awoke around 6:30AM (as usual) ready to find the elf. Oh no, I forgot to put the elf out! Day 1 and off to a bad start! My saving grace is that my daughter doesn't get out of bed in the morning unless given permission... I darted to where the elf was in the cabinet, yanked it out of the box, and in the dark found a shelf in the living room to place it on. Whew! After 3 weeks of remembering a shoe every night, we now have to remember to move the elf, what have we gotten ourselves in to, ha-ha! One thing I do love about these holidays is being able to play the "if-you're-naughty-you-get-nothing" card, it's great! Our kid is pretty good for the most part, but I still love using the card when she tries to be difficult. We've decided to tone down Christmas this year though, we want our daughter to appreciate what she gets (plus there were plenty of Sinterklaas presents). This year she gets 1 big present from Santa, and of course presents from the family. It's kind of hard to explain the flow of deliveries arriving at house, so we told her that families also exchange presents, plus Santa Claus brings stuff to the kids. How long will we be able to keep up this charade? When I grew up my parents were too religious to allow me to believe in Santa Claus, but now that I'm a parent I'm doing things different. Do your little ones believe in Santa Claus?
Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!