Winter holiday diaries

Winter has always made me think of one thing: going back home for the holidays. For some reason, when it starts getting cold, dark, and humid it feels as if whenever I breathe, I inhale ice water, and the thing that kindles a warm feeling inside me is the thought of going back home. Going back to a place warmer than The Hague, to my town, seeing my friends, going back to home-cooked meals, being suffocated by the hugs of my family members…ahh, home.

It’s always funny getting on the plane and seeing all of the people who are flying to my city wearing short sleeves and basically summer attire as if it were 30 degrees in my city. But since it is 15 degrees warmer than in the Netherlands that makes sense. With my luck of course, I got a crying baby in front of me which, for those who haven’t had this experience, really helps you to fall asleep. It’s like angels singing a lullaby. My favorite sound.

Getting home is nice. My parents are always hugging me as if I’ve been gone for years, my brother simply hugs me as if he saw me the day before and my sister hugs me very tight, in a way that I can feel that she missed me. Seeing the rest of my family is great…but chaotic. It’s always loud and there are lots of hugs and kisses involved. Always getting the “how are your studies going”, “what were you studying again?”, “do you already know what you want to do after your thesis?”, “do you have a boyfriend yet?”, “are you eating well? You look skinny”, and so on.

Christmas Eve is amazing. It’s usually just my parents, siblings, uncle and auntie and grandma. We make so much food: baked potatoes and cauliflower, LOTS of shellfish, cheese and ham, my grandma’s empanadillas (Spanish pastry) and of course the sweets for dessert: Christmas nougat and chocolates. You enter my house healthy and fit and leave with diabetes and a food baby bump. On Christmas day, we all meet at my grandma’s house and eat ‘cocido’ which is like beef and chicken stew with boiled vegetables and some soup. It is SO GOOD. Especially when it’s cold outside. I always somehow seem to forget how much my family talks. We discuss fifty different topics in 5 minutes before even beginning to have lunch. The only way to shut us up is by eating. That is the only moment of silence that exists in my family. Lunch time. I missed these lunches.

New Year’s is the most chaotic yet entertaining event of the holiday season. We meet at my uncle’s house, which is big enough to fit all of us. This year there were around 40 people, and even more people were supposed to come. We eat, drink and dance all night. We all sit at the table and eat so much food, unsurprisingly, and the dinner conversations begin. It’s very entertaining seeing how funny the adults of the family act when they get together. Like our lunches, our dinners are really loud. Trying to have a conversation with the person next to you turns into a competition to see who can shout the loudest.

At midnight, it’s tradition to eat 12 grapes after the sound of each of the 12 bells. Eating 12 grapes can seem like such an easy task, but when you’re given grapes the size of golf balls, it doesn’t seem so easy and is a bit worrying. After we eat the grapes and shout “Happy New Year”, we go around and hug all 40 family members, it’s actually a very sweet moment. Some people cry, not me, some laugh at those who are crying, also not me, and we wish each other a great year. The rest of the night consists of dancing, playing games and sports with my cousins and more dancing. 

Coming back home is great. I love it, don’t get me wrong but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. Some days I just need to find a quiet place or get some alone time in order to keep my sanity. I love being close to my ginormous and chaotic family. But I do like the independence I have when I am in The Hague. My life, my place, my friends, my routine and my space. However, I find myself missing the craziness my family and friends bring into my life when I’m not home. This has turned into a soppy diary entry, I’m aware of it. But as we have begun a new year, what better way to start the year than by writing a corny and reflective diary piece.

Anyways, happy new year everyone!





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