pakjesavond

Present-evening! Umm, here’s what I’ve been able to gather. Sinterklaas arrives sometime in November, everybody does the macarena, and then, according to a brief sidewalk conversation with a neighbor-mama, kids get little presents every night (if they’ve been good) until Pakjesavond. My Dutch textbook says that a recent study showed that the Dutch consider Pakjesavond their most important tradition, so I should probably get this right, except that, er, I haven’t given my kids a present every night since the 14th, oops. I did buy kruidnoten (don’t try to pronounce it), which turned out to be a lot like tiny ginger-snaps, but we ate them all in a couple days.

Anyway. Pakjesavond is december 5th, the night before St. Nicholas day, and it is celebrated by… giving the kids presents!

Um, whoa. I asked her, so then what about Christmas, like the 24th? and she said oh well of course we celebrate that too, because my husband is German and that’s the tradition he grew up with. So now I’m imagining… well, a constant shower of presents for three weeks, starting in mid-november, followed by a dry spell of lengthening nights and jonesing junior present-junkies, then one final bonanza, and then – January. Sounds like a total nightmare. I wonder if I should ask a few more people, get some more information on this, because, you know… really?

We’re still deciding what to do – drive down to Jagenau sometime before Christmas, leave the kids in Oompa-land while we spend a few days in Barcelona, do fireworks with our old neighbors in OurTown, and then home in time to get back to school on the 3rd, yes, but what about presents? Cart them down to Germany for the kids to open? And then cart them back up here? My big idea for this year was beanbag chairs – that’d be challenging.

Song du jour of the day: Stormy Weather, by Dinah Washington. We had some today, the trees were all whippy. Very exciting.

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