Dispatches from a non-war zone in the Netherlands

December 31, 2011

I overslept on New Year’s Eve morning. It was a little before 9am and the room was very dark. Coming out of my stupor, I thought I was in a war somewhere. With all the historical novels I read, I thought that maybe this was what London sounded like in the 1940’s. And I then I really woke up and realized that I was in the peaceful land of the Netherlands and this was the big fireworks day.

The law allows people to set off their fireworks from 10am to 2am, and some of the neighbors decided to start early. I am not exaggerating when I say that it sounds like bombs or bullets are flying through the overcast skies. I am typing this at 2pm and I believe I have developed a nervous twitch. The show has not ended for one second. When you comment on the noise to the Dutch, they say “what noise?” This American is having a little trouble dealing with this soundtrack, and the big show has not even started. Today there will be 65 million euros worth of fireworks in the Dutch skies.

On the previous evening, I went to my first pick up the works trip. The stuff was ordered online and all we had to do was pick it up. There are 1500 licensed locations in this country, and we went to the one closest to our house. It is a big garden store and nursery and one building has been dedicated to the sale of fireworks. When you walk in there is a table of free pastries—oliebollen. Then you see the walls of pure eye candy. The walls have fireworks behind cages and they are in these sexy boxes of all shapes and sizes. People were staring at the goodies as they traveled around the walls. If only museums could get this kind of attention to their art work!

There was a counter for those who were just picking up their ordered items—that was us, thank you very much. And there were about a hundred people waiting to place their order. They would look at the fireworks on display, make notes and then go to the counter with their order. There were at least 8 men serving customers. Each time they filled an order, they had to go into the back room where all the items were safely and legally stored. When our order was ready we picked up our boxes and bags with a grunt and sigh—fireworks are not lightweight.


January 1, 2012

Last night was a night to remember. In the late afternoon we had a fireworks party with our children and cousins. For two hours, we set off a variety of fireworks. They were very loud, colorful and smoky. I never had any appreciation of the amount of smoke fireworks create. You should have seen the smiles on the children’s faces—this was their happiest time of the year. I actually lit one of the fireworks—my first time.

After we got home, the fireworks in the neighborhood continued. And then everything changed at midnight. The skies became bright with colors and it felt like the whole world was celebrating in our town. We went outside to the front of the house to set off 6 rockets called “Hot Shots”(aptly named). I literally could turn all around while looking at the sky and see fireworks, we were surrounded. The sky looked like the house of Willy Wonka, the closet of Lady Gaga and the Crayola factory had all exploded at the same time. It was jaw dropping. Our rockets joined the party and then we went back inside. The show lasted almost an hour. Remember that these were just regular people doing their own thing, and I cannot even imagine how much money they spent. But I am grateful they did what they did. They gave me a wondrous evening.

Finally, I can attest to the assumption about the Dutch being very clean people. Today, families were out sweeping their sidewalks and streets. The city will eventually sweep the streets, but most residents took care of their own mess. The Dutch know how to have a good time, a loud time, an even colorful time, but they also clean up. A good night for all!

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  • Loree Griffin Burns  On January 2, 2012 at 5:10 am

    Happy New Year, Jane! I am glad you had a good night … and that the fireworks went off without a hitch.


  • Aledys Ver  On January 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Happy New Year, Jane!! Glad you had a nice start of the New Year! Have a great 2012 and I am looking forward to continue reading your interesting post.

  • Judy Savage  On January 5, 2012 at 5:24 am

    Happy New Year, Jane! Sounds like a magical Disney-like experience (not that I would know what that is like) and your description was wonderful, as usual.


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    “””””””””””””” “”””””””””””””””””””””””
    qqqqqqqq wwwwwwww mmmmmm
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    Yup! Keyboard fireworks.

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