Monday, December 8, 2014

Friday, November 28

Even though I went to bed so early last night, I sleep until six this morning.  I thought for sure I would wake up around four, maybe five at the latest, but I guess I really was tired.  My plan was to rise before the sun and head out to the mall to do some Christmas shopping.  I love to go to the stores when they are not crowded, and from past experience, I know that five is a great time to shop.

Instead of that plan, the one where I would be home by the time Steve needs to go out, Steve drops me at the mall around seven thirty and heads over to Walmart to cover the protest going on there. By the time he comes back to cover the Buy Nothing Day, taking place on the State House lawn, I have amassed as many purchases as I can carry.

I feel a little bad about this contrast, but here I am with a day off from work, and this shopping that I need to do.  If I were able to, I would have all of my shopping done before Thanksgiving, and be able to join in on the buy nothing campaign.  The reality for me, time wise and financially, is that buy nothing day is the most convenient day for me to shop.

As I stand outside the mall, I see some of the appreciative recipients of the Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange.  There are quite a few families with young children, and I am glad that they have been able to find warm outerwear for the winter.

We arrive home just in time.  Steve's dad, his wife and her mother are just getting ready to get in their car to leave.  I thought they had said they would visit at ten thirty, but they were here at ten.  It is now ten fifteen, and we almost missed them.

His dad and Jan are up for the Thanksgiving holiday. It is so nice that they were able to stop by since we didn't make it to the celebration they were at yesterday.  We have a little time to catch up before they need to leave.  It is so nice to see them, and especially to see Jan's mother.  We haven't seen her in quite a long time.

Later, I walk up to Hope Street to visit the small shops there. Steven and I have been invited to a Sinterklaas celebration this evening, and we need some small gifts to bring.  Hannah, Ayla's friend since first grade, moved to Amsterdam last January to be with her boyfriend Job (pronounced Yōb).

They have come back to the States to visit for Thanksgiving, and want to share this tradition from Job's culture with us.  It requires each person to bring three small wrapped gifts with them.  It is usually celbrated on December fourth, but since they will be leaving before then, we celebrate tonight.

marzipan pig
Hannah and Job made us a traditional Netherlands dinner, called stampot, which is potatoes with greens and cheese mashed all together.  It is served with sausages and gravy.  As with most cultural celebrations there are many food traditions attached.  This one includes small ginger cookies called pepernoot, chocolate Sinterklass and Black Peter candy, Stroopwafels, marzipan pigs, biscuits, and the first letter of each person's name made out of chocolate.

We eat our meal and begin the gift exchange.  It is similar to a Yankee swap, but with dice.  Each roll dictates what the person rolling the dice should do: take a gift from the pile, take a gift from someone and give it to someone else, pass gifts to the left or right, unwrap a gift, take someone else's gift, and finally put an unwrapped gift that is in front of you under your chair.  Once the gift is under your chair, no one can take it from you.  It is much fun to see how the game shifts with each unwrapping of a gift.  We played for a couple of hours, and though it did start to get a little tedious toward the end of the game, we were in such good company, we still had a fine time.

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