Small is beautiful
December is always a good month for me - for Christmas and for other reasons.
Provided we’d been good kids during the year, Dutch children large and small would get presents from St. Nicholas on 5 December. Sinterklaas, as we call him in the Netherlands, is clearly our equivalent of Santa, so for us Christmas really does come early! I remember one year when there was loud banging on the door to announce the presents’ delivery, just as my dad was getting coal for the fire from the shed … funny that!
Not even a week later I would celebrate again as my birthday is the 11th. Perhaps not as big an event as Sinterklaas, but close as it is always a good day, which I celebrate whatever age I am, just because I can!
My mum and dad moved away from the country to Rotterdam to find work; dad was a metal worker and mum a teacher, so we spent most Christmas holidays away from home visiting family and friends. Having celebrated Sinterklaas earlier in the month, we didn’t do presents again for Christmas, but wherever we went there would always be a Christmas tree. These trees were small and their decorations simple, but I have a vivid memory of being in a lovely ‘woodland’ smelling room with a tree decorated with a few baubles, some tinsel and real candles. When evening came my uncle would light the candles, and one by one the flickering flames would completely transform this little tree into pure magic!
I now use trees to link people back to nature to help them improve their health and well being and it wouldn’t surprise me if that early wonderful experience was the spark that lit my love for trees. For me Christmas isn’t the same without family, friends and a real tree, whatever its size!