November in the Netherlands: I’m Already Behind

by farrah on November 5, 2013 · 11 comments

I don’t know what it is about this time of the year that leaves me slammed and rushed- maybe it’s the two ‘biggie’ holidays that wait for us at the end. I love it though- always have. As an adult I have finally come to appreciate November for its own special qualities-not just that last month before things REALLY get nuts and I’m elbowing people at Kohls over holiday sales.


Well, not really. I don’t see the holiday madness here like back home. Additionally- I’ve already done 95% of my shopping since my husband has to go to the states this weekend and take the gifts with him. I have to admit that he’s going to be bringing his own gifts back since I shipped them to his mom. Here’s to no peeking. Overall, we have some lofty ambitions this month and by jotting it down, my hope is that we stick to them.

Mamagetaway to Malta

Oh I cannot wait. This is my treat! I am counting down the minutes. Recently I’ve seen that Malta was hit by some severe storms, but rain won’t stop me. It would be great if it cleared up by the 16th, but hey. I’ll live. I’m currently reading up on the background of this beautiful country and can’t wait to go with my friend Ace in just two short weeks. We’re staying at a fabulous hotel- all of which I will be sharing on Travel Mamas once we get back. My husband is very good to me, and this will be my fourth ‘Mamagetaway’ after the Wyoming dude ranch, Italy and Ireland. I wish all mamas could get away once in a while- we deserve it.


Christmas markets are a very big thing in this area- specifically in Germany. They are usually held in a city center, filled with booths that sell treats of all kinds- handmade items galore and of course the glass boots filled with a hot mulled wine. Last year we were too bewildered to make a game plan and get it together to go to any, so this year it is at the top of the ‘WE WILL‘ list. There are so many that initially I didn’t really know how to even start. It’s not like my husband and I can just pop off and go jaunting around at will seeing whatever we like. We have to methodically plan and dry-run our wishful excursions to prepare for anything (ie rain/sleet/snow).

Lucky for us, some very nice markets aren’t more than a couple of hours away so we’ve set our sights on a few here in the Netherlands, one in Belgium and the rest in Germany. Chances are we’re only going to see one per day- so for the next few weekends that means we will be heading out on Saturdays and Sundays sometimes by train and sometimes by car. They are crowded- but not in the ‘a new mall just opened’ kind of way. I’m really looking forward to these and have to remember to control myself with buying every must have thing that I see.

Thanksgiving In Leiden

Last year the entire month of November was a blur. We were trying to find our sea legs for at least the first few months- and Thanksgiving dinner was a sack of hamburgers from the cafeteria around the corner. I already knew about the Netherlands/United States Thanksgiving connection- but we just couldn’t get our act together to go. Basically, this is the deal:

Thanksgiving at the Pieterskerk in Leiden is unique. In that the Pieterskerk is the place the Pilgrims recorded their births, marriages and deaths. They lived in its surroundings from 1609 to 1620. And some of the descendants still live in Leiden. John Robinson, one of the Pilgrim leaders  was buried in the Pieterskerk Leiden.

The influence of the Pilgrims on the future United States has been great. Just take the fact that no less than seven American Presidents  are direct descendants of the Leiden Pilgrims. Click here to read how no less than nine of their descendants have made it to President. Presidents Taylor, Grant, Roosevelt, Bush sr. and jr. and Obama all have a Leiden Pilgrim ancestor.–from

There’s a much better background on the story found at the Smithsonian’s blog here, which I encourage you to read- it’s very interesting! I had no idea that there was an entire group of people- that the pilgrims stopped here before making their way across the sea. I really, really want to attend this service which is led by “Catholic priest, Protestant ministers, a rabbi and a cantor“. Sounds like the start to a joke, huh?

It goes without saying that this is probably not the most kid-friendly church service ever, so I am currently figuring out the logistics as to how we can make it happen. I think our sitter probably has school- so at best my husband will take the day off of work, stay home with the boys and I am earnestly hoping my friend Ann joins me. Leiden is only an hour and thirty minutes away- so it would be really great if we could go and then come back to my house for a real Thanksgiving dinner. There are numerous hurdles here, but we’re optomistic.

Writing this up made me feel a little anxious as I am now wondering how we’ll make it all happen- but we’re determined. What are you November plans and what kind of traditions do you keep?



{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Monique November 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

Take your kids to the service if you need to. Lots of people bring kids to the Thanksgiving service, especially since kids that go to the American school are off that day. Malta sounds like fun. Can’t wait to hear more.


2 farrah November 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm

We’ll see. I can’t say that they’d enjoy it, but I really want to go. I’ll regret it if I never do!


3 Julia November 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Those Christmas marts sound wonderful. I love all the small Christmas craft shows that happen in my area. Hitting them up is on my list. We do a walk around our neighborhood with friends to look at Christmas lights and have a big dinner.


4 farrah November 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I never took advantage of the ones around me back in SC. Hopefully it’s something I hold onto when we return 🙂

For the life of me I can’t remember seeing many Christmas lights here. I know they aren’t anything like the US even if there are a few. That’s sad.


5 Jessica November 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Have you been to Rotterdam/Delfshaven and the (Oude of) Pelgrimvaderskerk? That was the Pilgrims’ last stop before traveling to England then on to America. There is a small church there — not sure if they do services — with a small room dedicated to telling the story of the Pilgrims.
You could maybe take the kids along, but there’s not really anything for them to do…but then again, you have all of Rotterdam at your fingertips!
Careful, though, it’s only open on certain days of the week (Friday and Saturday, maybe?).


6 farrah November 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I’m going to check that out too- I had no idea Rotterdam was part of the stop as well! Amazing! Thanks for sharing and I am so excited about your pumpkin pie recipe!


7 Mrs. Chasing the Donkey November 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Man, I am so jealous of your Christmas markets. I so want to go to those, but alas the hubby is at work.
Also insanely jealous of your Mamagetaway, I need to get me one of those booked. Enjoy!


8 farrah November 6, 2013 at 9:30 am

You DOOOOO. How about one to Amsterdam?


9 Jessica November 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm

So…do you think you’ll be heading to Leiden on Thanksgiving? I might try to head up there too!


10 farrah November 10, 2013 at 6:42 am

Still not sure- but will let you know! Waiting on my sitter 🙂


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