Happy New Year! With prospects looking grim for the world in general, I’m also not sure if that happy part applies to us. I’d say it was rather horrible. If not everyone got sick on the last day of the year, everyone was on New Year’s Day. There was a lot of throwing up, a lot coming out the other way too and heaps of coughing and stuffed up noses which even made breathing a challenge. This time, I wasn’t spared either. It made for several sleepless nights and I’m sad to report that with jet lag added this week, we have been pushed to our limits and are on automatic pilot mode. Well, that’s not entirely true. There’s also the tantrums. My. Tantrums.
Our holiday in Belgium started out pretty nice though. We drove down to Paris for a few days and went to Disneyland. Again. I know. C. likes to believe he’s doing it for me. The next day we went into the City of Light. I’ve never been there until I was 25 and most people I know who aren’t Belgian, don’t get it, what with me only living a few hours of a drive away all my life up till then. To be honest, I don’t think Paris is all that special. It’s a capital like many other European capitals, and so it is beautiful and generally well kept. But that’s about it. Except for the Place du Tertre, I don’t get the appeal and the hold the actual city of Paris has over people. It’s busy, loud, chauvinistic and full of Parisians.
The Friday after we got back to Belgium, my mum had her 60th birthday party. It was fun to meet and talk to her friends and great to catch up with my extended family. We spent Christmas Eve at my parents and just had a wide variety of appetizers all evening long while watching TV together. They were playing Home Alone and Christmas With the Kranks, but I wasn’t allowed to didn’t watch it. On Christmas Day, Santa came in the morning for our 3 monsters and my sister and her family came over for lunch. Raclette! My favourite dish! There were a lot of presents passed around. See, in Belgium, we have Sinterklaas on December 6. So Santa doesn’t really visit Belgium. Instead, we grew up giving presents to each other on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas Day we would sleep in, spend as much of the day as we could in our new pajamas, which were a present from the night before and then quickly dress to go visit all the grandparents where all the uncles, aunts and cousins would be.
Today though, our children have Sinterklaas as mentioned on December 6, the twins have their birthday on December 10 and C. on December 18. Then Christmas Eve comes where we kind of want to continue the tradition of giving a gift, and on the 25th, Santa visits early in the morning. Last but not least, on January 4, S. has her birthday. It’s an expensive month all together. We used to do a gift giving on New Year’s Eve too where we would draw names and you’d have to get the name you got something small, but we decided not to do this anymore, because it’s just… too much. We had an large extra luggage bag filled with toys and things on our way back. And with 3 children and only 2 adults, any piece of luggage is a piece too much.
I took a lot of silly pictures of S. and me with Christmassy overlays like candy cane hats and reindeer antlers, and we had a lot of fun with them together, but only too late did I realize that the background featured the nude painting hanging on the wall of my parents place, so yeah… there’s that.
Between Christmas and New Year, we went to visit places like Westvleteren in West-Flanders and Berkel-Enschot in the Netherlands. Fun places if you are into beer. We visited the pediatrician to get a check-up for E. and D. It’s a pain to do it here in Japan… I went to get my hair cut. It’s a pain to do it here in Japan… I went shoe shopping with my mum… It’s a pain to do it here in Japan. Oh for Pete’s sake, stop being so negative and whiney all the time.
We met up with a few friends, visited family, celebrated S.’s birthday the day before we flew out and suddenly, we were on the plane back with me cursing and losing my patience because I figured with it being a night flight, things would be a lot better than the outbound flight, but alas… Things were absolutely freaking disastrous worse. And so, I’d like to take this opportunity to spread some of the wisdom I gathered from personal experiences:
- never assume anything
- keep your expectations low at all times
- make sure to have headache tablets close at hand
- and always, always bring extra clothes on a flight
Let’s hope at some point this week, we will have a good night’s sleep because honestly, you don’t want to run into me right now. But Happy New Year! Juliett Victor Over. *facekeyboard*