Tag Archives: Holidays

Christmas Tag

Tags are a big thing on Dutch blogs, but I rarely see them on English-language blogs. I love them. Yesterday, finally, I found an English-language Christmas tag. I alreaddy filled a Dutch one in on my Dutch blog. It’s already 11PM on Christmas day, so I am rather late to the party, but I’d still love to fill this one out.

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
Honestly, Home Alone is the only one I know and I haven’t even seen it in full. Back when I was a child, my parents and sister used to watch musicals on TV particularly on what in the UK is called boxing day and is called second Christmas day in the Netherlands. I particularly remember one called My Fair Lady, but didn’t like it.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
I don’t remember. Googled it and the last white Christmas we had here in the Netherlands was in 2010, so yes.

How do you usually spend the holidays?
With my parents or in-laws usually.

What’s your favorite Christmas song?
It’s Gonna Be a Cold, Cold Christmas by Dana. I don’t mind most Christmas songs, although there isn’t any I really like. However, I don’t understand how people’s favorite can be Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christams Is You.

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
No. We don’t give each other Christmas presents. This used to be because in the Netherlands, St. Nicholas on December 5 is a bigger hliday (although it’s losing ground). Now in my family we don’t celebrate this anymore either.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
No, I’m clueless about those.

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
I didn’t look forward to much and we don’t realy have traditions.

Is your tree real or fake?
We don’t have a tree at home, because our cat would climb it. On the ward, we have four fake trees.

What’s your ultimate Christmas treat/food/sweet?
I love most, but my all-time favorite is a type of cookie called cinnamon stars. I haven’t had them in years though.

Be honest! do you prefer giving or receiving presents?
Receiving. I find giving presents stressful, particularly thinking of what others might like.

What’s the best present you’ve ever received at Christmas?
Like I said, we don’t give out Christmas gifts. Besides, I have no idea what the best present I ever received was.

What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
Allow me to stay home please. I don’t enjoy the lights or snow anyway.

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
I don’t even try.

Most memorable Christmas moment?
I don’t know. I’d say last year’s Christmas gourmet with my in-laws, because that’s the first that comes to mind.

What made you realize the truth about Santa?
This is about St. Nick again. My father had recorded a tape one year in which Black Peter, Santa Clause’s helper, pretended to be stuck in the chimney. (Here, the traditional storyline goes that St. Nick and his Peters ride the rooftops and throw presents down the chimney.) When I had sort of realized the truth, Dad showed me the tape.

What makes the holidays special for you?
The food and nothing else. I hate the forced niceness and togetherness. I also don’t particularly like the decorations.

Hope you all had/have a nice Christmas and boxing day.

Ten Reasons I Love Spring

Spring is the second best season after summer if you ask me. Summer is better among other reasons because it’s my birthday season. Today, however, I’ll be sharing the reasons why I love spring.

1. The weather. When I was on the locked unit in the city hospital, my unit was close to a park. The beginning of spring was marked by the weather being dry and warm enough that I could lie on the grass in the park. This happened in the middle of March the year I was on that unit. My ideal weather however is dry, sunny with some clouds and a daytime temperature of above 20°C. We don’t usually reach that temperature until the middle of April.

2. Being able to wear skirts and short sleeves. I used to have rules about what weather dictated which clothees, because otherwise I’d be walking in a T-shirt when it’s freezing and wear a hoodie and jacket when it’s 30°C. I have a hard time telling when it’s too hot or too cold, after all. I still use my rules at times, although I forget to check the weather forecast a lot. When it’s above 20°C, I can usually wear skirts and short-sleeved shirts. My pants are all black or denim, but my skirts are in brighter colors. I love wearing them and love wearing my sandals too.

3. Being able to sit in the garden. This is the first spring that my husband and I have a garden. Although I don’t like sun-bathing or otherwise doing nothing while in the garden, I love to spend time in the garden when I have something to do. We don’t have a flowery garden and the fruits and berries won’t be there till summer. Next year summer that is, because my husband says he’ll have to remove half the berries and fruits from the trees once they first appear to prevent the trees from falling over.

4. Daylight. I don’t like the sun shining right through the window of my study at home, but otherwise I love the fact that it’s light outside longer.

5. Going for walks. This is not a specific spring activity, but it’s a lot more fun in the spring. The weather is usually ideal and the air is fresh. I love, love, love going for walks and it’s harder to motivate people to take me on walks during other seasons – or to be motivated myself.

6. Birds. These days, I usually wake up at 6AM. I don’t usually wake up because of the chirping of birds – another patient’s alarm clock wakes me. Still, I do often hear the chirping of birds through my window. I also often still hear them when I go to bed at just before 10PM.

7. Holidays. We’ve got Easter, King’s Day on April 27, the feast of the ascension and liberation day, which of course aren’t always on the same day like this year. After all, liberation day is always on May 5, but the date of the ascension depends on when Easter is that year. Lastly, there’s of course Pentecost, which is coming up this week-end. I am not big on Christian holidays, but I love the extra days off and I do like the good vibes shining off my Bible reading around those days.

8. Birthdays. Not my own like I said, but my mother and sister have their birthdays in the spring. I love visiting my parents usually between my mother’s and sister’s birthday to celebrate both.

9. Seasonal foods. I am not a big fan of typical winter foods like kale with smoked sausage or suerkraut. The beginning of spring means a new menu with more seasonal foods in the institution. Also, of course, at the end of spring there’s a huge variety of seasonal produce at the stores.

10. Renewed energy. I am usually more energized physically during the spring and summer than during the fall and winter. Also, the spring often brings renewed mental energy and motivation. Lastly, I’m often n a better mood during springtime.

What is your favorite season? And what do you love most about spring?

Mama’s Losin’ It

You Baby Me Mummy

Currently – May 2016

I have seen people, particularly lifestyle bloggers, post a monthly Currently post before. This is a post in which you answer some prompts about what you’re currently up to. Today, I am embarking on the journey too. There are many variations on the theme. I chose to link up with the Currently linky provided by Anne of in residence and Jenna of Gold and Bloom.

Celebrating

It’s liberation day in the Netherlands today. The celebration started after World War II ended for the Netherlands on May 5, 1945. It is also the feast of the ascension of Jesus today. Ironically, though liberation day is much more important than Jesus’ ascension to the Dutch, even to many Christians, it’s a bank holiday because of the ascension. Liberation day only is a bank holiday once every five years. Quite odd if you ask me. I say this even as a progressive Jesus follower, but I want to point out that without liberty many people would not be able to express their faiths.

Official celebrations aside, we celebrated my mother’s and sister’s birthdays last Saturday. My mother’s birthday was on April 28th. My sistehr’s is the 13th of May. Yes, it’s a Friday the 13th this year and no, that’s not a bad omen. My sister was born on Friday the 13th, in fact.

Reading

Lots of blogs. After the April A to Z Challenge is over, I’m surprisingly motivated to read a variety of blogs. I was hardly motivated to check out other participants during the challenge, but now I’m again interested in reading other blogs.

Book-wise, a few new books are coming out this month that I’d love to read. I badly want to read The Genome Generation by Steven M. Lipkin and Jon Luoma, but it isn’t even out in hardcover yet. I saw it up for pre-order months ago on Kobo, but now the idea of an eBook publication seems to have vanished. Consumed, the new book by Abbie Rushton, is out as an eBOok and I badly want to get it. However, I’m not finished reading The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork yet and want to read that first.

Pondering

I just discovered Philosophy Experiments, a site full of philosophical games and challenges. I am in pretty good philosophical health according to the Philosophical Health Check. It found only one tension in my beliefs. I also made it through Battleground God with just one direct hit.

Sipping

Coffee, mostly. Oh, and a yucky type of fiber that I got prescribed to help with my chronic constipation. I can’t get used to it.

Going

I went to my parents’ on Saturday, like I said. This was jsut a day trip, as my father is doing construction on the upper floor, where we usually sleep.

This month, I’m not going anywhere, except to my and my husband’s home. I’m there right now because of the bank holiday and also because I had a meeting yesterday. I met with an independent client advocate, who’s going to help me through the process of getting care funding for once I’m living with my husband.

What have you been up to lately?

December 2015 Goals

Wow, it’s December, the last month of 2015. Last Thursday, when my husband and I got the keys to our new home, we had to pay the rent for the rest of the year. It’s amazing and shocking at the same time how we have only less than 31 day sleft till the end of 2015. Today, I’m going to list some goals I have for this last month of the year.

1. Blog at least twice a week on each of my blogs. I have restarted my Dutch blog (again!), which means I now have to divide my blogging attention between two blogs. It’s not much if you see how many blogs I’ve created over the past years, but the fact is I’ve never kept up with more than two, so this is hard enough. I am terrible at dividing my attention, so I hope that this time it’ll be a success.

2. Not put on any weight. I’m not going to aim for weight loss in this festive month, because I know that’s just not going to happen. However, last week I was at the exact point weight wise I was last March, which was the heaviest I’ve been ever. It’s only a bit heavier than where i was in September of 2014, but it’s still significant that this is my heaviest weight. I just can’t keep on cutting mysef slack, because then my BMI will be over 40 in no time.

3. Finish at least one of the books I started reading earlier this year but haven’t finished yet. I’ll probably go for Girl in Glass by Deanna Fei.

4. Spend at least one week-end at my new home. I’ll most likely have no difficulty reaching this goal, as we’ll have to hand in the key to our old apartment on the 18th.

5. Buy my husband and father their birhtday presents. My husband had his birthday in mid-November, but he wants a tree for in our garden. I really do hope we can still plant it. My father has his birthday in mid-January, but I want to be early.

6. Not end up in crisis. December is one of the hardest months of the year for me, because the staff are often busy with holiday preparations and stuff and the whole unit is decorated and furniture moved. I have been in crisis each December since being on this unit. Since my medication can’t be increased any, as it was last year and in 2013, I just hope I won’t end up in crisis.

I really do hope I’ll be able to enjoy the holidays some, but that’s going to be hard. I am already thinking of what to buy myself for the holidays (or for any occasion). Last week, I bought myself some products from The Body Shop and I won’t promise there will be no more spending on gifts for myself this month.

Christmas 2014

It’s Christmas time 2014. Merry Christmas! I hope you all are having a great day. I really would like to look back on the year today, but I’m having an extremely hard time thinking up things to write about. Therefore, I’m sharing just some thoughts on my Christmas.

I was lucky that the day activity room was open all week except today and tomorrow. If I have to say one thing about this past year anyway, it’s that it’s been a creative one. So was this week. I made some nice cards and some polymer clay animal figures. NO pics yet as I haven’t scanned the cards and haven’t seen my husband yet since making the polymer clay figures. Besides, he may not yet have found his camera.

I went to church yesterday night. A catholic pastor was preaching and my beliefs lean towards protestantism, but it wasn’t a problem. I like that everyone in my institution who follows Jesus, or even who finds his message inspriing, can come to church. There was a great gospel choir too. I didn’t have money to buy their CD or I would have. In the sermon, the preacher talked about both our personal lives as patients or families of patients in the institution, and about the bigger world news. Of course, the MH17 disaster was mentioned. I did find it a little frustrating that I couldn’t remember the words to any of the songs we sang, even though they were well-known for being sung at Christmas and I recognized most.

There was another church service this morning which I’d planned on going to, but I was too tired. Instead, I spent much time in bed or sitting in the front room drinking coffee and eating Christmassy snacks. I didn’t end up going to my in-laws today. Instead, I’ll be visiting them tomorrow. We had a pretty good institution supper for a ready-made meal. In fact, one of the nurses oven-baked the potatoes.

I’m having a little difficulty with the lack of ordinary structure these two days (today and tomorrow). Thankfully it’s only two days and then next week Thursday which is new year’s. The staff will be making snacks for a few days prior to new year’s because they sell them for extra money for the ward. I don’t like the crowdiness it brings on but I can go to the day activity room then at least.

How I’d Spend the Holidays…

One of Mama’s Losin’ It’s writing workshop prompts this week is to describe how I’d spend the holidays if it were totally up to me and money wasn’t an issue. Since I’ve been extremely overwhelmed by what Christmas “should” be like, I thought I’d fantasize a bit.

I have several ideas floating around in my head. The first is that I’d stay in our little apartment with my husband. Given that we have two rather hyperactive cats, we can’t decorate the place. Not that I’d want to either. I love to make Christmas cards and decorations, but to decorate my home is quite a different story. After all, this is one of my main stresses on the psych ward: the whole ward is decorated and there are Christmas trees and decorations everywhere in my path from the entrance to my room. I’ve bumped into them on quite a few occasions so far.

I would want to bring somee Christmassy atmosphere into the home, but would do it with scents. Last year, I bought a set of wintery scents at the local supermarket, all suited for in my diffuser (but they came with a burner in case you don’t have a diffuser). I love these scents and would buy some additional oil pads so that I could interchange scents without having to use the first one up before inserting a new one.

Taking a bath on Boxing Day would also be nice. At my husband’s, we don’t have a bathtub, but at the ward we do. So once returning to the ward, I’d spend some time taking a relaxing bath with some lavender soap in it.

We’d of course eat my favorite dish on Christmas night, which is chicken with vegetales and either noodles or fries. If we ate noodles, the dish would be spiced up with lots of herbs and spices. I really don’t know about spicing up fries. Any ideas?

other than that I’d just spend the holidays relaxing with my husband. I’d also spend considerable time online, since even though my Internet connection is okay, it’s not as good as my husband’s.

Most of all, I’d have zero obligation to put on a holiday spirit and shiney, happy face when I’m not happy. Of course, I’d be nice to my husband, but I’m usually nice to him the rest of the year too and don’t have to put up a façade for this.

So how am I really going to spend the holidays? On Christmas day, my husband and I will spend the evening at my in-laws, where my husband says we will eat chicken. I guess he’s afraid that if he cooks up any sort of specially-prepared holiday meal, I’ll shame him about it on my blog.

I’ll take my computer with me so that, if my husband and his family want to watch any type of televison I don’t like, I can just spend time online. Then at night my husband and I may leave for our apartment. I will probably return to the ward on Boxing Day. Most likely, there won’t be time for a bath, but I can diffuse my lovely scents all I want.

Mama’s Losin’ It

St. Nicholas

I am still having difficulty getting inspired to write regularly on this blog. Ironically, I wrote six posts for my Dutch blog this week. Writing those posts gave me one idea to write about here – books I’ve read in 2014 -, but I’m too lazy to write that post.

I went on the SITS Girls website and looked at the prompts for December. Yesterday’s prompt asked if we celebrate with Santa Clause. Since St. Nicholas or Santa Clause is a particularly Dutch (and somewhat Belgian) tradition, at least in its most well-known form, I thought I’d write about that. A day late – or two, since the St. Nick’s celebration is on December 5 here -, but who cares?

St. Nicholas in some ways is like Christmas in the U.S., in that we swap gifts, there’s an old man with a white beard and a red coat involved and we eat lots of candy. There are specific St. Nicholas candies. For example, people often get a chocolate letter.

We used to celebrate St. Nicholas with my family rather than Christmas. At school, we also celebrated St. Nicholas in additon to Christmas. A tradition in many homes and classrooms is to package your gifts in a surprise package and to draw names to determine who has to gift to whom. Of course, you always thank “Santa Clause” and in some cases, who really gifted you will remain unknown to you forever. Like, I never found out who’d gifted me some chocolates packaged in a box that was made to look like a laptop in seventh grade.

At our home, we usually gave each of our family members a present, at least from the moment we were old enough to have some money for it and not believe that Santa Clause existed anymore. I hated the name-drawaing, surprise-gifting process and to my knowledge I managed to persuade (or tantrum) my parents into never adopting that tradition.

Another tradition which I couldn’t keep my parents from adopting was the Santa Clause poem. The most boring kind goes along the lines of “Santa thought long and hard what to gift dear Edward”. The best ones have some kind of moral advice in them and if they’re really good, they’re humorous too. It was usually easy to tell who had gifted me something by the quality of and tone in the poems. My mother was the one with the hugely moralizing poems, my father incorporated humor and some advice, and my sister would make up words in order to make the words rhyme. I hardly ever wrote poems and hated having to read the ones I got aloud. In fact, I hated the whole pretend play involved in Santa Clause once I was old enough to no longer believe he existed. I never went along with it.

Nonetheless, I liked celebrating Santa Clause, though possibly more for the gifts and a bit because we’d always done it this way than for any other reason. It did sadden me that we stopped celebrating St. Nicholas once I got into the psychiatric hospital. Now we visit my parents every other year for Christmas instead.

Halloween or St. Martin: My Experience (Includes Social Story)

This week’s spin cycle prompt is to write about your Halloween. Since we don’t celebrate Halloween much here in the Netherlands, and I certainly didn’t do anything for it this year, I have a hard time telling you about my Halloween specifically. We do have a similar celebration though, St. Martin, which is celebrated on NOvember 11. On St. Martin, kids go from door to door as on Halloween, only they carry a lantern and aren’t dressed up. They sing a St. Martin’s song and then get a treat.

I did follow a lot of Halloween-related posts over the past few weeks, and one was a Halloween-based social story (unfortunately, I forgot where I found it). For those not familiar with them, social stories are like little tales you tell kids with social-cognitive difficulties such as autism so that they know what to expect and how to behave in certain situations. They often include both written “instructions” and pictures. Reading this social story reminded me of my own most embarrassing St. Martin’s experience, when I could most definitely have used a social story.

I was about thirteen, which I think is way old for trick-or-treating, but my classmates were still going too and so was my younger sister. None of my classmates lived in my neihgborhood and my sister didn’t want me to go with her and her friends. I went alone, which was hard enough given that I’m blind and couldn’t always find the doorbell. However, the embarrassing thing was that, though I did start going from door to door at the same time my sister did, being alone, I had no clue when to return home. So at one point I had been trick-or-treating for I don’t know how long and I rang the umpteenth doorbell, and someone told me that I was way late and should be home by now. That sure was embarrassing!

Most Halloween-based social stories are catered towards younger children who can’t go from door to door independently, so they include stuff like “I will hold Mommy’s hand”. I realize however that for special needs kids especially, it may still be good to participate in Halloween or similar festivities when they’re older. Here is a St. Martin’s social story for those old enough to walk the neighborhood independently. You can modify the traditions and date to make it Halloween-based.

It is November 11, which is St. Martin. On St. Martin, kids go from door to door singing a song in exchange for candy. After dinner at 6:45, I get my lantern and get ready to go from door to door. I go outside at 7:00 and make sure to take my lantern and a bag for the candy I’ll get. I ring the neighbors’ doorbells. When they open the door, I show my lantern and sing one of the St. Martin’s songs I’ve been taught. Then the neighbors give me candy. I go to the neighbors in my own street only and finish off no later than 7:30. I am home no later than 7:45. I get to choose and eat one piece of candy tonight. St. Martin sure is a treat-filled celebration!

Racism and Black Peter

Last year, not for the first time but for the first time I did notice, debate sparked in the Netherlands about the St. Nicholas celebration and the color of “Zwarte Piet” (Black Peter), St Nick’s helper. I didn’t pay much attention to the debate, but when a number of my Facebook friends signed the “Pietition” to keep Black Peter black, I did so, too. I had never thought of Black Peter as referring to slavery. Possibly, it’s because I didn’t know that he was decorated rather steretoypcially with red lipstick, earrings, etc. More likely, it’s because I possess White privilege and I horribly neglect racism in my attempts at educating myself about minoriyt points of view.

Around the discussion last year, my husband introduced me to a point of view which said that apparently White people’s enjoyment of the tradition is more important than Black people’s dissatisfaction with it, and this is racist. We, and I include myself here, often say that Black people who complain are just “professional niggers” shouting “racism” at every opportunity to do so. Then again, I for one am pretty well-known for calling out ableism (discrimination of people with disabilities) at every opportunity at least on my blog.

I understand both points of view. White people insisting on tradition probably aren’t otherwise racist, rather more likely having trouble shifting perspective from their own privileged stance to the minority person’s. Of course Black Peter has got to be black, everyone knows this, because I’m in the majority here and I know. On the other hand, Black Peter does have a traditional helper role, which could easily be interpreted as a reference to slavery (and it is likely that the historical St. Nick had slaves too, though they may not have been Black). Tradition is important for many people, but can’t we shift it a little bit for some people’s comfort?

St. Nick will arrive in the Netherlands in Gouda on November 15 this year. The St. Nicholas committee has decided to include a majority of black Peters, but to include yellow-faced “Gouda cheese” Peters too. That way, they give both parties a little of what they want, but I doubt either will be satisfied. Particularly some people supporting traditionally black Peters have radicalized over the year a bit towards a more hostile form of racism rather than mere ignorance.

Mama’s Losin’ It