Happy Sinterklaas everyone! Ok, so if you don’t live in Holland you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. In Dutch tradition, today is Sinterklaas’s (Santa Clause) birthday. It was so cute. My host mom hired a Sinterklaas to come to the house with his Swarte Pieten (black helpers) and talk to the kids and give them their presents. I can’t even explain how cute it was how the kids reacted. The Swarte Pieten are so silly and we sang lientjes (little songs) about Sinterklaas. They were pretty proud of me that I knew the songs since they knew that I was American. I also got a picture taken with Sinterklaas and his Pieten so as soon as I figure out how I’ll post it. After Sinterklaas left we opened the presents that “he” brought. There were so many! I don’t think I’ve ever seen children get so many presents before. The good thing though was all the presents were things that really help them exercise their imaginations, like dress up clothes (ie. Pirate costumes, train conductor hats and whistles, Indian bows and arrows etc.) legos, books, blocks etc. It wasn’t like what most kids in America get for Christmas where all you have to do is press a button and everything else is done for you. Also, since it’s imagination toys they’re a lot quieter, no electronic noises going on and on! It was a lot of fun. Another fun tradition that we did is everyone has to write a poem in Dutch about the person whom the gift is for. I didn’t write one because I didn’t know about it ahead of time but they had me read mine out loud. It was a bit embarrasing but a lot of fun too.

The rest of my weekend was really great too. I went out to Amsterdam with the Au Pairs on Saturday. Anna, Bea and Kathrin were there and I met some new people too. There was Caitlin from Northern California, Kate from Tasmania, Sürï from Finland, Ross who works with Anna and is also from Northern California and another guy Au Pair from Spain who’s name I can’t remember. It was a really fun group. We basically bar-hopped until almost 11pm when the club we wanted to go to opened. I was also told that I’m the most fun sober person that this person had ever met so that made me feel good. I’m getting really comfortable not drinking and it gets easier and easier to say no thank you. Actually, the only person who has ever pressured me to drink was a bar tender last night. I finally just told him that I was allergic to alcohol. I know, it’s a really horrible lie but it was the only thing I could say to get him to shut up! lol. I also had an interesting train ride home involving thinking that I was not going to be able to get back to Rotterdam several times. But it all worked out just fine.

So, now the Christmas season actually starts here. I’m so excited. I’m having such a great time and it just keeps getting better!