Thursday, February 22

On New Year's Eve

From an email home dated 2 January 2006
A newbie to The Netherlands attempts to discuss the chaos of a New Year celebration!

31 December was a bit quiet around our house. Don was on a trip to the U.S. to visit his family. Ian was spending the day and night at a friend’s house in the neighboring town of Zouterwoude. So it was just Emma, Andrew and I left to our own to celebrate the coming of 2006. Andrew was in bed by his typical 7:00 p.m. and that left Em and I to hang out together.

The two of us had a lovely, quiet evening. We ate dinner, and watched a movie or two together. We both fell asleep on the couch at some point during the second film. When I woke around 11:00 p.m. I sort of puttered around awhile and actually toyed with the idea of just taking Emma upstairs to her bed, and climbing into mine and calling the whole celebration complete…

But I delayed, because Don had mentioned that there would be fireworks at midnight and I thought Emma would like to try and see them. At this point I wondered if we would be able to get a good view of a fireworks show. The night was somewhat cloudy and our house is not right in the city center, so I wasn’t sure we would have a great view. But we would make an effort to watch the fireworks and after that we could climb in our beds and be snoozing by 12:30.

No problem.

11:55 p.m. I stir Emma from her slumber and we switch on the TV to watch a countdown being broadcast. She very sleepily says, “Do you think we’ll be able to see the fireworks?” and I say “I hope so”. Then we join the television party goers and count down “Tien-negen-acht-zeven-ses-vijf-vier-drie-twee…” At our count of “een”, we hear the whine of a bottle rocket zipping skyward to explode above the house. Oh, cool! Fireworks!

So we scurry to the front window to see if there will be more. In the 10 ½ seconds it took us to move from the living room to the kitchen to look out our front windows, it sounded as if war had broken out on our street.

There were rockets being lit from every direction. Firecrackers popping like machine gun fire. Sparklers, smoke bombs, whistlers, fountains… you name it, it was being lit, thrown, launched and fired!

I have never seen a show like this in my whole life. It was SO loud and SO chaotic out on our street. It was hard to determine if the view was better from the back yard or the front porch. So we alternated and watched the firework show from inside the house for several minutes. Then we decided we really had to get outside to experience what was happening, so we opened the front door.

Holy cow! What noise! We thought it extremely loud and somewhat disconcerting while the doors were shut. To be outside in the din was UNBELIEVABLE! What a rush. We joined neighbors on the sidewalk and watched the antics of those who were providing the fire show. If I could I wouldn’t even know how to assign a number to the fireworks being launched. A gazillion? It was amazing.

And it wasn’t happening on our street alone, but this frenzy was repeated street after street, block after block throughout the entire city. The sky was alive with color.

Besides the boom, boom, boom of fireworks popping, the music of the night included friends and neighbors greeting each other with kisses and calling out “Gefeliciteerd!” (Congratulations!) I kissed more neighbors that night, than I even knew I had.

Mostly I just stood and watched the fireworks, shook my head and repeated over and over “I have never seen anything like this before”

Ultimately, the noise woke Andrew (like anyone could sleep through that?) and we brought him downstairs to join us. I thought he might be frightened, but instead he just kept calling out “lights” as the fireworks exploded overhead.

We watched the show for an hour, then at 1:00 a.m. I told my kids we had better call it a night. I tucked them both in and wondered if anyone would actually be able to get to sleep. The festivities were still in full swing and didn’t appear to be closing up any time soon. I kissed the kids and wished them luck for slumber. It actually didn’t take them too long to give in and fall asleep. At around 2:00 a.m it began to quiet. There was still quite a bit of action in the sky, but not near as much as before. I am not sure what time the last firecracker exploded, because by that time, I too had given in to sleep.

Maybe we’ll see fireworks?


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