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Tropical Family Christmas

This is one of my favourite times of the year. In my family the christmas holidays are always surrounded around love, happiness, good food and lots of laughter. And this year has been no different.

December 23rd, Sunset at Carl Gustaf Hotel.

On the 24th of December, which in France and Italy, countries from which we’ve adopted some holiday-culture, Christmas Eve is very much celebrated, so we decided to spend the morning with some friends in town, before heading home and preparing the festivities for that evening. Together with mom, I made an incredilby tasty apple pie. Along the way of making it we had some good laughs thanks to our incredibly old-school cook book, which has been around since I’ve been little. When we flipped to the apple-pie recipe, we found it to say “make this apple pie as you always would” with one additional special preparation tip. But as the previous years we’ve always used box-mix, we had no idea what the “regular way” to make apple pie was. Thankfully we had the internet. While our applie pie was in the oven, we skyped grandma, my mom’s mom, so that we spend Christmas Eve together for a little while.

After our skype call we had apple-pie with whipped cream and coffee and hung out for a little while, before each doing our own thing for a little bit, which for me included working on my camino book and listening to some of my favourtie slow songs, while mentally and spiritually tuning in with my dad. This is the first holiday that he isn’t on earth anymore and while it’s a little strange, it’s also not so unfamiliar. Growing up with divorced parents always meant spending the holiday season with just one of the two, so it more so feels like this year it’s mom’s turn instead of dad. But knowing the reality of how it is, I took a moment to tune-in with myself and communicate with my dad that I love him, feel connected to him. I imagined us dancing, the way we would when we were at home a beautiful song would be on, and I felt him close by in my heart.

For dinner, Rowena and Christiaan cooked a three course meal that consisted of spicy gambas as an appetizer, followed by ravioli with “burro é salvia“, followed by mahi-mahi fish. As we had enjoyed fresh apple pie for lunch, we didn’t have an official desert but rather enjoyed a small snack and had some chips during the movie. To stay in the Christmas spirit we decided to watch ‘The Holiday’, which was the absolute perfect choice to complement our evening.

The next morning I woke up earliest, around 06:30. I decided to immediately head to the bakery to make sure that our desired items were still there. Luckily when I got there about 15 minutes later, they still had everything we needed. On the way to and from the baker, the world looked so beautiful with the sun rising over the mountains of the island, with almost no one on the road, that I decided to enjoy the island and take a little moment for myself by driving around, all the way to the top of Grand Fond, where for a quick minute I parked the car and got out to enjoy the wind and the beauty of the world.
Additionally this moment for myself gave me some time and space to think about dad. This is the first year that he isn’t physically on this world to celebrate the holidays with us, although I know that he is here in energy and spirit. Funnily enough having divorced parents since I was 6 and therefore always spending the holidays with one of the two, it’s not too strange to only have one parent around.

When I got home only my lovely mom was awake yet, and so after a quick shower I messaged some friends while waiting for Rowena and Christiaan to wake up. By 09:00 we were ready for breakfast, a colourful feast of fruits and viennoiserie (croissants, pain au chocolat, pain aux amandes), as well as a soft-boiled egg and coffee and tea. We sat outside in our garden, feeling lucky to be in a place so warm and sunny. Breakfast was followed by everyone doing their own thing for a bit, for me this meant some writing and blogging. By late morning we were once again gathered around the table but this time for a card game: Hartenjagen, one that has become a favourite of ours.

After a victorious round for me, we pushed the table to the side and moved all the Christmas gifts from atop the piano to underneath our umbrella-christmas tree outside. We gathered on the ground with some apple pie, coffee and finally it was time for gifts.

When I was younger I always loved received gifts. I was always unsure of what to get others, but getting gifts was awesome. And for me it always felt quite perfect because my birthday is in the summer, so every half-year I would get presents. But the older I’ve gotten, the more I like to give presents. It’s so fun to be able to get somebody something that they really enjoy, and to then see them use it, wear it, read it, and know that you brought them that item of joy. I always especially love giving my mom gifts. Throughout my life she has given us so much, a loving home, a safe space, a friend, a conversation partner, a mom, a travel buddy, and all that on top of the material things. If I could, I would give her the world on a golden platter – but for now, Christmas gifts and birthday gifts will have to do.

All the gifts were a complete succeses, but the most successful of all were the cards. Even my oldest sister, Marjolein, had send us cards from the Netherlands, and everyone wrote such sweet words to one another, an occassional tear was shed.

The rest of the afternoon we did our own thing for a little while. I called with a good friend for an hour while lying outside, staring up at the clouds that passed by. Before long it was already time to prepare dinner and tonight it was my mom and I that were on kitchen duty. I rasped the carrots and peeled the sweet potatoes before cooking them in the oven. In the mean time my mom prepared the steak, something we haven’t eaten in a long time and so we decided to make an exception. It’s been such a long time since I’ve eaten meat. Dinner was delicious and was followed by looking at some photos from when we were younger, some which were hilarious, others were incredibly cute. We finished the evening by watching another holiday favourite: ‘Love Actually’.

The 26th of December, in the Netherlands, is called the second day of Christmas. We usually celebrate the 25th and the 26th. Sometimes, like this year, when the 27th falls on a weekend day or friday, we even go so far as to call it the “third christmas day”. But abroad they tend to only celebrate the evening of the 24th and the 25th. But here we were today, celebrating anyways, as we can make up our own rules. We started our day calm and slow, somewhat sleeping in, followed by breakfast and tea on the deck in the garden, before deciding to make a small island tour and going for coffee at Oubli. We enjoyed a coffee here and had a chat with Richard, one of our friends, before heading back home.

At home I prepared a cheese platter with small pieces of toast, which was our lunch, and we just relaxed while eating, sitting around the little table in the living room on the floor. After eating we decided to leave the house again to go to Shell Beach for a swim and have an ice cream on the way back. The rest of the early evening we just spend relaxing. We’d been so busy doing so many things together the past few days, it felt good to take a moment for ourselves and enjoy some quiet.

We ended the night with more good food and a movie, before heading to bed and waking up to enjoy our third Christmas day.

I always love this time of year and this year especially I feel so incredibly grateful to have spend it with my family – to be able to be together and share this special time in our lives and how we grow with one another and by ourselves. And I feel like the end of the year always puts everything in perspective, and currently I just feel happy to be here surrounded by love.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday (if you celebrate this holiday) and are surrounded by love, even if it’s virtually or through the phone. Merry Christmas!

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