28 years

Mr Esther and I have been together for 28 years, it’s our get-together anniversary today!

We’re at the beach this afternoon with our daughter and also visiting the hotel where our son is doing his internship.

It’s a good day.

Guten Rutsch!

The German title of this post literally means “good slide!”, which is what Germans wish you at this time of year: have a good slide into the new year! We (Mr Esther, our mini-not-me daughter and I) drove to Frankfurt am Main today to spend a few days here. Our son is at home, taking care of the cats. He’s doing an internship at a hotel and has to work; he’ll also be going out with friends to welcome the new year and is thrilled to be spending a few days all alone at home.

After a little detour past the towns where I had lived not far from here in the mid 1980s we arrived at our hotel at the end of the afternoon, right in the center of Frankfurt. We’re close to the main shopping area.

We walked around a bit, stopped for dinner…

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… and then strolled back to the hotel where we played a few games. Now it’s time for unwinding a bit before we go to sleep.

We’ll be out and about tomorrow, so I don’t expect to be online much. That means that now is the time to wish you all a good beginning to the new year and the new decade. Have a “guten Rutsch” and cheers from me to you!

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May 2020 be a good year and the beginning of a decade where we do better for our fellow human beings and our planet!

Second Christmas Day

The title of this post makes me think of Hobbits who have second breakfasts!

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As I mentioned in my post last night, Second Christmas Day, December 26th, is reserved for my family. But first this morning, Mr Esther made us another nice brunch at home for just the four of us…

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In the afternoon it was off to my mom’s. Her house is filled with candles and I had a Christmas cake made…

My mom always does a reading and a little speech for the family. My older sister, who is Jewish, also lit the fifth Hanukkah candle…

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We also commemorate loved ones we have lost and everyone lights one candle in memory, Mr Esther was the first one to light a candle.

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At the end of the evening our memorial shrine looked like this, with pictures of the loved ones lost accompanying the candles. The paintings are paintings my mother did of Mary and Mary with child.

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We had gifts to exchange which my daughter (in all black) and her cousin (in the pink top) handed out to people.

We had a buffet dinner, everyone had brought something…

… and we ended with a little candle ceremony, wishing each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in song.

It was a lovely, warm afternoon and evening and I know that, unlike many other people, I am very lucky to have family like that to spend it with! In all honesty, though, at the end of it all I was tired of all the socializing and celebrating we’ve been doing for the past 3 days and it’s good to be home again, on my couch, unwinding. Tomorrow is a day with very few plans and that is good…

Christmas Eve/Day and Richard

This year Mr Esther and I have not been that into Christmas. He has been so busy and a little stressed at work with some big projects he has been managing and I am only just recovering from that vertigo thing I’ve been dealing with these past few months. We just didn’t have the energy to dig out all the Christmas decor from our attic and do up a big Christmas tree. So, we bought a little tree in a pot (quite sustainable too, we thought, as we can put it in our garden after the holidays and maybe use it again next year!) that needed only a few small decorations. Mr Esther did go all out hanging lights in our back and front gardens. So, this is Christmas for us this year…

Christmas at our house has turned into this three day thing, starting yesterday evening for us.  Yesterday, on Christmas Eve, we had a good friend of ours over for dinner and her sister. Mr Esther is an only child and over the years these ladies have sort of become Mr Esther’s “sisters”. As they have already sadly lost their parents we have had them over for Christmas Eve dinner these past two or three years and it’s becoming a little tradition of its own. This was yesterday afternoon as the evening came, with the table all ready and set for dinner:

Mr Esther is the only one who does the cooking at our house (he likes it way more than I do and I clean up). We played some games while Mr Esther prepared the main meal…

… and we had a lovely dinner (my mini-not-me daughter had helped prepare the first course avocado mousse with salmon and salmon eggs).

During the evening I also saw my first Christmas gift come in: Richard Armitage’s Christmas message on Twitter.

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Some messages in the past have been so-so but this one I really liked. And I recognize the point he’s at in his life, it’s similar point I’m at myself. He wonders what one person can do to make a difference and that he has an idea… I wonder if we’ll ever find out what that idea is? Sustainability and planting trees seems to be on his mind as well, which I like. And yes, I will be there for Uncle Vanya! Richard also posted a picture of himself on Instagram

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These sure are nice gifts to start Christmas off with!

Here in The Netherlands we have two Christmas days, today (the 25th) is the first. This morning Mr Esther set up a nice Christmas breakfast for us and we then went on to unwrap a few gifts…

The gifts we do are quite modest but I had some lovely ones! A David Bowie 2020 calendar, perfume, a black case for my computer/reading glasses that I acquired not long ago, a voucher for the cinema and Mr Esther got me Michael Palin’s diary of a journey to North Korea, personally signed for me!

Late afternoon we went over to my in-laws for drinks and then dinner. As Mr Esther is an only child, it’s just the four of us and his parents. To liven things up a little I brought games for the kids and I (and occasionally Mr Esther) to play (the in-laws don’t do games) and for dinner we all table grilled.

Tomorrow is the second Christmas day (the 26th) and the final part of our Christmas. We go to my mother’s apartment to celebrate with my side of the family, which is always far more lively as I have loads of brothers and sisters with some of us having families of our own. So, Christmas isn’t over yet at our house and it is going well so far. I hope it’s nice for all of you too!

Family parties & December festivity

December is always a month of festivities here. Now, that the kids are bigger, we don’t really do Sinterklaas (traditional St. Nicholas feast here in The Netherlands on December 5th) anymore, so the weekend right after December 5th was free for Mr Esther and I to go away together. Every year we go to a Christmas market in Germany with two college friends of ours. The kids stayed at home alone together, which they throroughly enjoyed. My oldest brother was visting from Israel with his 19 year old daughter (we had seen them at a family Shabbat dinner on the Friday evening before) and they ended up dropping by my kids on Sunday to watch my son play handball and take my kids out to lunch (alas my daughter’s Saturday soccer game had been cancelled last minute due to extremely soggy soccer fields). So, they had a fun weekend while Mr Esther, our friends and I had a lovely Saturday and Sunday away together.

We braved the city of Osnabrück this year, we’d never been there before. I had to give up part of our afternoon city walk through town for a rest in our hotel room, but the evening was reserved for going to the Christmas market. There were some nice bits…

… but 80% of the market was dedicated to food and drink stalls and that is not the point of a Christmas market for us. So, while it was nice, it was not that great. Went back to our hotel and the next day we drove on to Münster, which we have visited several times before but it had been a few years since we had last been there.

The Münster Christmas market delivered, just as we had hoped. Many more arts and crafts stalls and a very nice atmosphere. We had nice Käsekuchen (cheese cake) and also stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant called “Hans im Glück” which had a beautiful natural interior design with tree trunks and very nice food. So, the slightly disappointing Osnabrück Christmas market was nicely counterbalanced by the lovely Münster market.

On our way home in the evening we stopped by a sushi restaurant in The Netherlands for dinner. Yummmm.

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Next year will be the 25th anniversary of when the four of us graduated college together, we’re thinking of celebrating by going away for a longer weekend in December to Berlin. That should be fun.

This past weekend we did an early family birthday celebration for my daughter who turns 16 in two days time. My aunt celebrates her 83rd birthday on the same day (these two love sharing a birthday) so I had a shared cake made for them. Their ages combined make them 99 years old together.

So many family parties at the end of the year! Last month we all celebrated my mother’s 85th birthday in the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam with a lunch and a guided tour…

… and at the end of the month we celebrated my niece’s 15th birthday (no pictures) and we still have Christmas coming up! Christmas Eve we have two friends coming over for dinner, Christmas Day we have dinner at my in-laws house and the next day we have a Christmas celebration at my mother’s flat with my family… By the time Christmas is over, Mr Esther and I are ready to crawl back into our anti-social hole. 🙂

In years past, after Christmas, we’d go to a cottage in the north of The Netherlands that my parents used to own to hide away for a bit. This year we have decided to get away for a few days around New Year’s to Frankfurt am Main in Germany; we booked a hotel in the city center there a few weeks ago. My son will have to work (he’s doing an internship in a hotel right now) and plans on going out to party with friends anyway for New Year’s, so it will just be Mr Esther, our daughter and I.  Yes, the end of year is always a very busy social (family) time for us. Makes up for being anti-social at other times in the year. 😉