Christmas at Schimmelpenninckstraat

Dear children,

I love Christmas. To me, it’s the season for daydreaming about the warm and fuzzy and get the warm and fuzzy feeling as a result of it. It’s the time I get visited by the Ghost of Christmas past and don’t get scared, because I’ve had some pretty rocking Christmas in my days.

This year, my mind drifted back to the glory of Christmas during my college years, eons and eons ago, before you even came along, when I’d spend it with the two guys I shared my apartment with.

One of them didn’t care much for Christmas (let’s just say that if Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch were ever to marry and had a son, my friend would be it.) We’d argue about Christmas tree trimmings and carols in the house and Christmas gifts. It was a funny kind of argument, the kind I knew I would win.

The other guy, however, made the house feel like it should be Christmas every day of the year. We never failed to turn Christmas rushes into an adventure. We bought stuff we didn’t even need and didn’t even pressure ourselves to get gifts for each other. We ate olliebollen and drank gluhwein and visited the Kermis just for the sake of it. We talked about hosting a Christmas party at our house simply to annoy the other guy, and we laughed our heads off seeing the grimace on his face. We never got around to doing it though, because we always found ourselves defeated by the thought of having to clean up afterward and kept the coziness of our apartment to ourselves.

Those two guys were different as night and day, but they made my Christmasses feel so real.

If we were ever to spend Christmas apart because one of us went away for the holidays, I’d call them and tell them I missed them (because they’re guys, they don’t do mushy stuff, even though I know deep inside they missed me too!). I remember shedding a tear one Christmas Eve, as I heard “Driving Home For Christmas” on the radio, when I was in Paris with my family, wishing I were home in my small Rotterdam apartment with those two guys.

This year, my mind drifted back to that small apartment on Schimmelpennickstraat.

To our tree with minimal trimmings near the kitchen.

To the heater near the windows where we’d warm our pillows before we go to bed.

To the little snowman with the weird face my friend put on the window sill outside my room when he came home.

To the slippery sidewalk outside our apartment, where I fell flat on my face once.

To the gloomy Rotterdam sky.

To my two friends, who made my college years the most meaningful years of my adolescent life.

College feels like a long, long, long time ago. But at Christmas, it feels like it was just yesterday.

I’ve moved on so far. But at Christmas, it doesn’t feel like I’ve moved on at all.

This is the only decent picture of the three of us I got on my hard disk. Unbelievable! Can you guess which one is Ebenezer Scrooge’s kid? Ho ho ho!
 This is the one who likes Christmas as much as I do!
Although on normal non-Christmas days, he’s this crazy, stressed-out person cooking and baking in the kitchen!
I don’t know why I don’t have a Christmas picture of us. Maybe at that time, we didn’t think we’d forget. But here’s a pic one of them snapped of me in my room one day.

My children, I pray that your adventures will bring you to cross paths with people who will make driving down memory lane a heartwarming adventure, especially at Christmas.

“So I sing for you, though you can’t hear me when I get through and feel you near me. Driving in my car, I’m driving home for Christmas, driving home for Christmas with a thousand memories… ” – Driving home for Christmas (Chris Rea)

With all my love,


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