Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Visit With Sinterklaas

(Please continue to know that this is a Dutch holiday. I swear.)

Sooooo, with the fast approach of December 5th, Kip's office had a Sinterklaas party for all the families that work at BMC here in the Netherlands. It really was well done- the venue was "Chimpy Champ," a Dutch cousin of "Pump It Up" or "Monkey Buisiness" or name your local warehouse full of bounce houses here. It did follow what we expect when we go to local playgrounds - it had a giant, totally cool playscape that never would exist in America outside the 1980s. It was easily 2 stories high, had nets and tunnels, ladders, giant slides- total kid wonderland. Kip raced a co-worker to the top and beat her. Her. Way to go, dear!

There were trampolines, too, and we kicked off our shoes and tried to give Megan whiplash, or at least a concussion:



But, the highlight of the party was the visit from Sinterklaas and his helper, Zwarte Piet. Now, if you read this blog (or at least the last post) you know my mixed emotions about good old Piet. I get that it's a Dutch tradition. I get that they tried to make Piet different colors a few years back and NOBODY thought it was cool, they prefer the Dutchman in black face. Did I smile and laugh when he acted silly? Of course. Did I wink at him (because I knew who he was behind the giant afro-wig and brown face paint)? Of course. Would I bring this tradition home with us to the US? Of course not. But, when in Rome...


Sinterklaas was spectacular. He had the perfect Sinterklaas voice- loud and baritone, warm and reassuring (for those few nervous kids). Piet was just silly enough, but not scary, and had the kids laughing with his antics, and lead everyone in Sinterklaas songs. They gave out gifts to the children one at a time, which I thought was so wonderful- each child was called by name, then stood by Sinterklaas while he recounted a few tidbits on how the child had been a good boy/girl that year (he prints his emails from parents now instead of writing in his big book) and then gave them a nice gift, and a big bag of pepernoten cookies. Every kid. It was just priceless. He even spoke English for Megan (Piet, too).




Megan had such a blast- she made friends with Faye, who is 5 like her, and Tim, who is six. Kip has his eye on Tim- he's older, and likes American girls. Megan had Tim's complete attention from the moment they met, and I think Kip got a headache from giving him the evil eye for talking with HIS daughter. His BABY GIRL.


After the Sinterklaas party Spectacularrrr, we joined a few of Kip's co-workers and their families for an undefined meal at a family restaurant in Amsterdam (yes, they do exist). Tim and his family gave Megan and me a ride to the restaurant, and we listened to a children's music CD the entire trip over. Megan and Tim were singing and singing, joking and giggling. Then Megan put her head on his shoulder and he sat straight back in his seat and froze, eyes open REALLY wide. I thought I was going to choke holding back laughter. Then he said something along the lines of "you can stop that now." Ahhh, cooties.


The meal was excellent, as was the company, and the adults all sat around drinking beer at a giant table while the kids played on the playground outside. They ran in to eat, for dessert, and for other little things like paper airplanes and boo-boo reports, but mostly stayed outside. Megan had insisted that we bring in her Sinterklaas gift, so part of the time she stayed indoors playing with her Littlest Pet Shop and ignoring Tim, much to his chagrin.


Always keep them at arm's length, Meg. Even if they are blonde haired, blue eyed and taller than you.



No comments: