Welcome at the blog of Dini Commandeur. I've written quite a lot of columns for various magazines. I also write short stories every now and then. These columns and stories are available for everybody at this blog. I'll release new columns and stories periodically.


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« About friendship | Home | Just something fun »

Happy Holidays

column December 2005 Thursday 15 December 2005 December, the holiday month.  The best, most fun month of the year, according to many.  But for others this month is a disaster.  What do you mean, “a happy St. Nicholas celebration”?  Where is that peaceful Christmas atmosphere?  What is so beautiful about the noisy bangs of fireworks? ... and if only it was January 2nd already. 

December, the busiest month of the year, with all the planning, the errands, gifts, poems, Christmas dinners... and, in the meantime, the physicians in the hospitals who are busy pumping out the stomachs of the desperate, for the month of December is also known as the month with the highest number of suicides.  December, month of extremes... month with the best parties and the greatest loneliness.  Month of abundance and too full a stomach for one, month of loss and emptiness for the other.  December, month of satisfaction and month of longing.  There isn’t another month that amplifies human emotions like the month of December with its many holidays.  Joy and sorrow, reunion and solitude.  Everything is experienced more intensely than in a “normal” month. 

December, the party month. Whether you like it or not, you cannot escape the hectic activity of December. It already starts in November, when St. Nicholas makes his entrance into the country.  Although we personally have not celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas in years, I think it is one of the most beautiful traditions in The Netherlands.  Here’s how it goes.  When St. Nicholas appears somewhere the kids are happy and the adults smile, you watch.  I remember last year, when I attended the arrival of St. Nicholas and saw an acquaintance who didn’t know how to smile, or so I thought.   I’ve know the man for years, but I've never seen a smile on his face until St. Nicholas arrived.  Suddenly, the man looked much younger and more attractive with that smile. Never really noticed that he had such a cute face...  but after that St. Nicholas arrival, unfortunately, I never saw that man laugh again.  St. Nicholas makes people smile and for that reason alone St. Nicholas is terrific.  But celebrating the eve of St. Nicholas is not for me.  The hassle of having to buy presents for someone who already has everything and the writing of poems - it’s all really wasted on me and, thankfully, my family as well.  So we spend the 5th of December, happy and content, watching television, or behind the computer, or reading a book on the sofa.  A bowl of chips close at hand... a pleasant evening.  Christmas we also celebrate in a rather sober fashion.  We just aren’t party animals.  We celebrate with the family, but should the kids have other plans it would be okay, too, because we don’t like obligations.  So, no obligatory visits or dinners.  We discuss the matter, but whatever the plans may be, we enjoy the holidays.  Ditto on New Year’s Eve.  A  family room full of people, at our house or somewhere else... no.  But doing whatever we feel like and stuffing ourselves with fritters and beignets (the traditional food on New Year’s Eve)... yes.  And that’s how we start the New Year.  Many would find it awfully boring but for us there is no better way.  As unenthusiastic celebrants we sometimes collide with the ideas of others.  For us, a party with lots of loud, booming music and smoke is not an enjoyable event.  A party where you can’t sit down, but have to stand around the entire time, where you lose your voice from yelling in the noise, trying to conduct a pleasant conversation with your neighbor...  Then, when you go home, hoarse, with a sore throat, hair and clothing saturated with smoke, I, personally, am not exactly in a celebratory mood.  I know people for whom such a party is nothing short of a small catastrophe....  And we usually are some of the ones who leave first.  In the past, we politely hung around a bit longer, but as you get older you realize that quality time  is not only something for working parents and their kids, but for everyone who wants to enjoy life a bit.  And what’s fun for one, a noisy, smoky party, is unpleasant for others.  Fortunately, there is a choice:  stay or leave.

Although we are not exuberant party people, I do love the month of December.  Because of the little faces of the children during the St. Nicholas holiday.  Because of the smile of the man who never laughs.  Because of the lights and the Christmas green.  Because of the fritters and beignets..  It’s all part of it. But the most beautiful thing is the music, such as the Christmas Oratorio, for example.  Oh, I know, I can listen to that music during the other months of the year as well, but somehow it doesn’t work that way.  And then there are the songs about peace on earth, but I don’t care for those.  Sure, it’s okay, but then throughout the entire year, because until now the begging for peace during hundreds of December months have not amounted to much. There are too many fights  in our world.  But let’s remain optimistic.  Perhaps, some time in the far distant future, there will be a world without wars and maybe there won’t be any more people for whom the December month is a small catastrophe, because all those parties emphasize their own loneliness.  I know, I know, I’m day dreaming now... but dreams are always permitted and hoping for a better world, too. 

I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas and a good and healthy 2006.

 Text: Dini Commandeur,  Translation Maria O’ Neill


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