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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international mushroom consultants. MEMOIRS about husband Pieter Vedder, who was a SCIENTIFIC PIONEER in Mushroom Cultivation Education. His practical handbook is in 8 languages and is called the MUSHROOM BIBLE: https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2020/08/modern-mushroom-growing-2020-harvesting.html

Friday, December 25, 2020

Guest Column for Uncle Bo Whaley - Fond memories of a Dutch Christmas

December 23, 1987 my guest column for Uncle Bo Whaley
Mariet Vedder remembers childhood Christmas in Holland
Bo Whaley
(Editor's note: Today's special Christmas column was written by Mariet Vedder, a native of Holland, who has lived in Dublin for the past four years with her husband, Pieter, vice president, Fresh Produce Division (Mushrooms), an affiliate of Campbell's Soup Co. (CAMSCO). The Vedders travel extensively throughout the world in order for Mr. Vedder to lecture at various seminars inasmuch as he is recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on mushrooms).

At times, like now, I pause to consider the true meaning of Christmas. Are we still celebrating Jesus' birthday as one big Christian family? Or has it been transformed into one big commercial happening?
In my native Holland, we would not decorate (trim) our Christmas tree until a few days before Christmas, then maintain it until Epiphany (January 6, observed as a churchtain festival in commemoration of the coming of the three wise men to Jesus at Bethlehem).
Our Christian season began on the evening of December 24th, walking through a layer of snow, most often, to our church for the celebration of Midnight Mass. A freezing night with a clear sky, filled with lots of stars, belonged to this season ⏤ like Baby Jesus and the angels. It was so quiet, so peaceful, with everything and everybody waiting to celebrate another birthday of the Savior.
I remember that as we neared the church and heard the inviting voices of the choir, our pace quickened, and once inside we hurried to get a glimpse of the nativity scene. The aroma of burning candles, coupled with the joyful singing, completed the setting and afforded a sense of strength and unity, like one big family with a common goal: Peace on earth and love that came with the birth of Jesus.
After Church, families would gather for a great dinner, similar to the American Thanksgiving. This would be repeated the next day, the so-called Second Christmas Day.
Some memories are somewhat nostalgic, therefore not every Christmas was so peaceful. One of the strongest and most lasting impressions regarding Christmas for my husband Pieter, came on Christmas Day, 1944, near the end of World War II, when he was 15. (Pieter with his middle brother were evacuated at a farmstead away from home, parents and oldest brother elsewhere).
Accompanied by his older brother, they left night mass and were walking home when they saw a blaze behind a low hill. Being curious, as boys tend to be, they walked briskly toward the flames were coming from an airplane that had just been shot down. The light from the blaze illuminated the surrounding area sufficiently for the two youngsters to see a human arm and hand hanging in the barbed wire encircling a meadow.
This experience was so shocking for the boys, having just moments before left mass with peace on their minds Christmas night only to be confronted  with such a cruelty ⏤ evidence of the ravages of war and human conflict...
Living now at home in Dublin, Georgia/USA, far a way from Holland, Christmas for me is, of course, different. The religious meaning is the same, but I miss the closeness of my family at this special time of year. My biggest joy comes from sending and receiving all the Christmas cards. All hose relatives and freidns who think aobut you... write a personal note, wishing the best for the New Year. And it really is a moving experience when, for example, I hold Christmas cards received from behind the Iron Curtain or South Africa in my hands and realize that Christian feelings are alive all over the world, despite the many different philosophies.
We receive Christmas cards from friends in exotic countries where my husband and I have visited, such as Indonesia, Singapore, India, China and Japan. While the cards are different in design, the spirit in which they are sent is the same ⏤ that of love and peace.
Last year was a very special Christmas for Pieter and me. We celebrated it in Indonesia, on the islands of Java and Bali. On Christmas Eve we attended night mass in the city of Wonosobo, on the island of Java. The church was decorated  in a most heavenly way, with amaryllis and orchids! It was like being in paradise what with all the exotic fragrances, beautiful people in their 'sarongs' (the traditional Javanese costume) and with that special gleam in their eyes radiating love faith and true Christianity.
Mass started with a ceremony performed by about a dozen beautiful young girls between the ages of eight and fourteen, lined up in two rows, wearing gorgeous sarongs and barefooted. One held a doll, depicting the new born baby, Jesus. The others strew flower petals while dancing slowly to the altar, bringing Jesus to his manger. They did have the universal nativity scene. Just the music, the choir and the formal dancing was so unusual to us westerners.
The entire service of two hours, including a sermon, was very dignified. Although we could not pray or sing with the natives, it was not boring.
When communion was given, the long line never ended; many stood outside and followed the mass through special loudspeakers. It was overwhelming to witness such attendance. After mass, out in the streets where traffic is prohibited during sermons to ensure quietness, the scene resembled a standing reception. We never shook so many hands in our lives! All the priests were outside, too. Everybody wishing one another a Merry Christmas. It was a deeply moving experience, the most impressive Christmas ever.
From Indonesia, we moved on to Singapore where we stayed for two days. It is a clean and modern state, still decorated for the Christmas season at the end of December. There were no Christmas trees but the naive tropical trees were decorated and lit up. Beautiful plain white lights spanned the main streets and shops carried out the spirit of Christmas.
From Singapore we traveled on to Holland, arriving on New Year's Eve. 

...Fond memories of less commercial Christmas

The Christmas tree at my parent's home was still set up, adding to an old fashioned 'long' holiday season that did not end abruptly on December 26 like here in the United States, but lasted until the Solemnity of Epiphany in early January.
The Christmas season should not die the moment one opens his presents; rather, we should live on in its spirit a bit longer.

Thought For Today: 'Peace is not a Christmas gift, but a task.' ~Unknown.

24 comments:

  1. A very nicely written article filled with tradition and memories. Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Tammy,
      Thank you for your words here above and wishing you a Merry Christmas season.
      So glad we got our Internet restored back this morning, after five days without.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  2. Bellisimo ricordo.Buona fine 2020.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cara Olga,
      Grazie e anche tutti voi Buona fine 2020!
      Abbracci,
      Mariette

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Dearest Anne,
      Thank you and yes, it is a very meaningful one.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  4. Hello Mariette, You and Pieter have certainly celebrated the holidays in a variety of often exotic locations, enabling to to explore in detail the true roots of this tradition. Sometimes we have to use what we believe in to reconcile the bad parts of life, but these are what give real meaning to the happy parts of life, when we can be with those whom we love. In the end, I suppose it is the desire to pay homage to an ideal or a holiday that makes it special, and that binds us to the people we celebrate with, whether blood relatives or new friends.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Jim,
      Yes, we have celebrated Christmas in different places, that is oh so true.
      But no matter where you are, the entire world is focussed on the reason of Christmas and yes, even with those that are not related to us by blood can add to the warmth.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  5. With best wishes to you and your family this Blessed Christmas.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Victor.
      Thank you and a bit late for returning that to you and yours, but we could not help for not sooner getting our Internet restored after five days without.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  6. Beautifully written, and should remind us all of why we celebrate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Janey,
      Thank you and yes, we ought to remind that vividly!
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  7. It’s a great article, Mariette. The part about your husband Pieter’s experience in 1944 is shocking and very sad. Christmas you spent in Indonesia sounds beautiful.

    I hope you and your husband Pieter are enjoying a lovely and safe Christmas holiday :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Tamago,
      Thank you and yes, that part for husband Pieter for experiencing such horror as a teenager is above sad. It never leaves one's retina...
      Christmas in Indonesia and Singapore has been our best!
      We had a very quiet Christmas and now can finally catch up on many emails and such after five days not having had Internet.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  8. Met plezier gelezen. De beste wensen voor 2021 alvast! Hartelijke groet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beste Ingrid.
      Dank je voor je woorden hier!
      Jullie ook een fijn einde van 2020 en het allerbeste voor 2021!
      Geniet van jullie leven in Pieter's geboorte provincie.
      Liefs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  9. Liebe Mariette,
    ja nun ist Weihnachten vorbei, irgendwie völlig anders als gewohnt, aber das haben wir nicht nur alleine, uns bleibt die Hoffnung...
    Wie schön dass Euer Internet wieder funktioniert! Ohne ist man ja wirklich aufgeschmissen!
    Und so wünsche ich Euch ein paar ruhige Tage im alten Jahr - bei uns sagt man: zwischen den Jahren... kommt gut und gesund, mit ein wenig Glauben an das Morgen und Hoffnung für die Zukunft, ins Neue Jahr 2021.
    Herzliche Grüße aus Ostfriesland
    Moin und Happy New Year!
    Traudi.♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liebe Traudi,
      Ja, ohne Internet können wir ja nicht mehr leben...
      Das Glauben und Hoffnung für die Zukunft soll stark sein in unsere Welt.
      Happy New Year zu euch alle!
      Lieber Gruß,
      Mariette

      Delete
  10. It is very nice that you welcome me so pleasantly and tell me about yourself. I hope you are getting better after surgery and that the book is going to be a success. I wish they can return to normal and healthy in 2021. Greetings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Giga,
      Thank you for your visit and sure hope you manage on your own after the tragic loss of your LOVE.
      The book is selling well and we're recovering our costs as we had absolutely NO sponsor. We always have been independent, just writing the basics and helping others understand, without ever pushing for any sale.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  11. What beautiful memories of the Christmases you had, Mariette. Thank you so much for taking the time to share them with us.

    You reminded me of our Christmases when young. We used to walk through snow to Midnight Mass on the 24th. When Mass ended at about 1:30am on the 25th we got home for hot cocoa drinks and cookies. We opened the presents on the 25th when we woke up at about 9:00am These days it does not snow often in the UK at Christmas. This year it was very windy with rain.

    Wishing you a blessed time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Victor,
      Thank you, those are valuable memories to hold on to as they shaped us into what we have become.
      We never opened presents but celebrated St. Nicholas on December 5 (evening for the adults) or 6 (for the children).
      Hugs to you during this special time of the year.
      Mariette

      Delete
  12. Love This - And Love That Smile - Be Well You Two

    OxoxoxO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Travis,
      THANK you! We try hard to stay well and keep smiling...
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete

Thanks for your visit and comment.

Mariette...

MARIETTE'S BACK TO BASICS © 2009. All rights reserved - Text and images may not be copied for distribution or sale.

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