Fri
16 Dec


Wife:2 – Husband:0

Invading Holland will be taking a short break during the busy Christmas holiday and will return in the New Year. Have an amazing Christmas and brilliant New Year.
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For more Christmas posts check out Alex in the snow and The Ebenezer Scrooge Timeline

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Wed
7 Dec

November and December can be a very confusing time of year for expats in Holland, especially for those who have never heard the name Sinterklaas or seen a Zwarte Piet before.

Who is Sinterklaas?

If you were to ask a Dutch Person who Sinterklaas is the basic description you’d receive would be something along the lines of, “He is a very nice old man who has a long white beard, dresses in red and gives presents in December to all the good girls and boys.”

Sinterklaas vs. Santa

Whatever you do, do not follow this up by asking them how that makes him any different from Santa, not unless you want to seriously damage diplomatic relations between Holland and your own country. Santa and Sinterklaas are two very different people. They just happen to work in the same area of business. There are several very key differences for identifying them:

1) Santa Claus comes from the North Pole but Sinterklaas comes from Spain and saves money on his yearly heating bill.

2) Santa Claus dresses in red with a fluffy white trim but Sinterklaas goes with the slightly more fashionable gold trim and accessorizes with a staff.

3) Santa Claus delivers presents on the night of December 24th but Sinterklaas arrives in Holland in the middle of November, does some sightseeing, delivers presents on the 5th of December and returns home in time to enjoy a quiet Christmas.

4) Santa Claus flies to his destination but Sinterklaas arrives by steam boat. It is still unknown if this difference is because Sinterklaas is afraid of flying or Santa is afraid of water.

5) Santa Claus rides on a sledge pulled by 12 over worked reindeer but Sinterklaas rides a single white horse called Amerigo, saves money on animal feed and has to remember less names.

6) Santa Claus puts presents for children under a Christmas tree but Sinterklaas puts presents in children’s shoes regardless of how smelly they are.

7) Santa Claus has an elf equal opportunities program which has helped keep the fairytale creature unemployment rate down. Sinterklaas also has an equal opportunities program and employs Zwarte Pieten who suffer from A.D.D and regularly get their shoe polish mixed up with their face cream.

8) Santa Claus gives a lump of coal to children who have been naughty so that they might learn from their mistakes. Sinterklaas on the other hand has a zero tolerance policy and orders Zwarte Piet to throw naughty children into a sack and drag them back to Spain while beating them with twigs.

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Looking for more? Find a full list of all humorous sinterklaas guides and posts right here:
All About Sinterklaas

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Wed
7 Dec

Pakjesavond. 11:47pm. Friesland.

As I was handed the mysterious and brightly wrapped Sinterklaas gift I knew something was up. The giggling and sniggers my family-in-law were unsuccessfully trying to contain were a dead giveaway. I opened the poem (which as it turned out was not a poem) attached to the gift and started to read it aloud as is the custom.

“Hello everybody. My name is Stuart.”

I instantly felt nervous. It is never a good sign when you are being forced to address a group of people on behalf of yourself without actually knowing what it is you are about to say.

“When I was a young boy I went to the scouts in London. They taught me over there how to survive, making campfires and a lot of other funny things. That all might help me in the rest of my life they told me. So after that I knew that there is some basic stuff you always have to carry with you to let it be easier to survive.”

I read it word for word (including Dutch-isms), only adding the occasional “oh no” and “where is this going?” of my own.

“So now it was time for me to prove my skills to the rest of the world, I packed my trousers, shorts, socks, flashlight and a toothbrush and some other stuff and I moved to Holland. I didn’t forgot anything.”

“Till this far everything was going very well…”

Till this far the story had not been as embarrassing as I had initially feared but I knew that with a line like “till this far” that was soon to change.

“I know that when people are getting older they start forget things, it’s just the way of nature. .. but what can happen me… I’m a scout and I know how to use nature in my advantage. So probably that rule will not be written for me…”

“And then it all started to go wrong….”

I paused. “Then it all started to go wrong,” is the only sentence worse than, “till this far.”

“In the last years something happen to me, I started to forgot a lot of things, I forgot to get out the train on the right station, my toothbrush when I went to my family-in-law…. and that happened more than once….Also my pyjama l left at home… socks… and a lot of other things l didn’t tell them.”

It is true. I regularly forget to pack toothbrushes and other such things whenever we visit my family-in-law. In fact it has happened so often that I had decided it was best to stop telling them about it after the Pakjesavond when I received a life time supply of toothbrushes. In fact, the last time I had forgotten my toothbrush I decided to brushed my teeth with my finger instead and told no one but my wife… she had obviously betrayed me.

“I think it all started when I met my wife Simone, she took a place in my brains and my mind and my skills learned by the scouts where moved to the background.”

No use trying to sweet talk her out of it now. I know she told you all about the finger-brushing.

“Her family already tried to help me a few years ago with a lot of toothbrushes…”

The for mentioned incident.

“…but please Sinterklaas… Could you help me this year!!”

“Well Stuart, I already noticed your problem and send out my scout-Piet and let him made a present to solve all your problems… but remember it will be the last time that Sinterklaas will help you… otherwise next year you go into the bag with us to Spain.”

“Sinterklaas”

I still didn’t really know what to expect as I finished reading. I just hoped it was not another life time supply of dentil hygiene implements. After all this build up what could it possibly be.

Nervously I opened the gift and discovered…

That was not all either.

Inside there was a collection of individually wrapped small gifts which included; a supply of toothbrushes, tiny shower products, two plasters, a pair of socks which I did not recognize as my own at first, a t-shirt, a pair of pajamas and a pair of underwear which I did most definitely recognize as my own and thought might have been items that I had accidently left behind during past visits but as it turns out were actually nicked by my wife the weekend before… some matches, a camouflage torch, a mars bar and some chocolate coins, some string, a travel board game and a Donald Duck bubble.

Next year I will plan my revenge well…

(I actually could not stop laughing during the whole reading and as I opened each individually wrapped ‘survival item’. It was brilliant. They got me good and it was such a cool gift.)

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Looking for more? Find a full list of all humorous sinterklaas guides and posts right here:
All About Sinterklaas

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Mon
5 Dec

It’s been a week since I announced myself as the new leader of Holland and so far there have been no ‘official’ complaints. I take this as a sign that the Dutch government is happy to accept the change.

I have already started to construct a new government by offering fellow blogger Barb (French Bean) the position of minister for transport (it happened in the comments so it’s official and legally binding).

Pop on over to her blog Two Beans or Not Two Beans to see her exciting plans for the future of Dutch transport… Although I think I might have to have a few word with her about some of her ideas.

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