Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My 1st Christmas Celebration in Holland, by Maria Zeeman

Here is a tiny glimpse into Maria’s early life. Makes you want to know more, doesn’t it?

In 1949 my whole family was in Holland. We all lived in Amsterdam. At that time my mother got a place on a canal. It was very small, with Just 2 bedrooms, a small kitchen, living room, and a toilet.
There wasn’t a shower or bath room. My mother put a BIG pot on the stove and we all used it to wash ourselves. We went to the bath house to take a good shower once a week. Back then this was normal.

I slept in one bedroom with my three sisters. Let and Trix had a double bed which had to be pulled out from the wall, and Claar and I had a single bed by the window. 

My parents slept in the living room and my brother Jan in the other bedroom with a partition to separate the bed from where my grandmother slept. It all was such a big difference from where we had come from.

In Surabaya, Indonesia, we had a big house, big rooms and big bathrooms. We took a shower every day and often twice a day. The food was made by our baboe (servant) and it was Indonesian food - delicious, with much fruit etc.  Now we ate potatoes and vegetables and very little meat or fish.

On December 5 we see St. Nicolas and his helpers coming on a boat through Amsterdam’s harbor. He looks very impressive with his stately hat and staff. The helpers are always full of soot because they have to go thru the chimneys to bring the presents.
St Nick gives the gifts to one of helpers and they deliver the gifts to the children. Each gift has to have a poem - sometimes sweet, sometime funny and sometimes not so nice if the child was not so good. It’s a fun and exciting time.
Then on Dec. 24, Christmas eve we all go to the special night mass. The next morning we visit our aunts & uncles and other family members. It’s customary for the younger generation to go out and visit the elders.
Everywhere we prayed and gave thanks for our life and they had special Dutch treats & drinks. My parents stayed home to cook our special Christmas meal. Most people make something like what we eat here. Turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables and pumpkin pie. 
Today, in the USA, we celebrate Christmas with a jolly happy Santa Claus and gifts for everybody. And in our family a unanimously chosen fantastic Indonesian meal, which still gives us a touch of Indonesia. We go to church or just pray at home. It’s also a very nice and happy time. 



  1. Maria, this is the essence of a good memoir.
    What a great gift for your future descendents.

  2. From Charlotte ~

    What a variety of Christmas' to remember. I'd love to hear more.

  3. Maria your past is so interesting and you have done a great job telling this story. We are all anxious to hear more of your stories. You have only just begun to entice us.

  4. This is fascinating, Maria (It thought you had more siblings. Were some already grown?) The practice of youngsters visiting their elders is similar to what my Chinese and Korean students do. Sadly, my family certainly couldn't do it because everyone lives to far away.
    I can't wait to hear more of your stories.