I’m Dreaming Of a … Christmas

15 December 2016 0 Comments Category: blog, Living in Spain, Robert Nieuwland

For me, Christmas holds some of my fondest memories. I guess I’m no exception in this. So when I started celebrating it yearly in Madrid, my expectations were high. Have my Spanish Christmases lived up to these?

Well… Let me start by saying that not everything necessarily needs to be compared with the objective of deciding a favorite. So once I’ve gotten this off my chest, I guess it’s safe to say I prefer my good old Dutch Christmas holidays over the ones I’ve had the privilege of experiencing here, in Spain. Or do I…?


Christmas in Holland is (or was, actually) ice-skating from dusk to dawn on the natural canals and lakes right outside my backyard. My Golden Retriever Bonny pulling me along, galloping with one of my gloves in her mouth. The embodiment of happiness.

Minced Pies

It’s the smell of freshly baked minced pies. My mother used to make those. She never made enough though… And her fruit cake… And my dad’s “oliebollen” for New Year’s Eve… And then, of course, the stuffed turkey, maybe some presents, some more ice-skating…

Parents In Law

In Madrid, my Christmases can basically be resumed as so: visits to my wife’s family, dinners at my parents in law’s home, more visits to more of my wife’s family. A Christmas lunch at my parents in law’s home. And, to round it off, New Year’s Eve and “Reyes” at my parents in law’s home with the last holiday lunch at the house of wife’s aunt.


However, it’s also running in the snowy mountains of Madrid’s National Park, with my Spanish successor of Bonny, Suske. Something I couldn’t even dream of when living in Holland (just like I can’t dream of skating on gorgeous natural ice, here in Madrid). Christmas here is years of new experiences, getting to know another way of celebrating and enjoying these holidays and appreciating family.

A Bit Of Both

And now, being a father of two young children (two and four), all these holidays and festivities have turned into something completely different. Now it’s my turn to offer the fabrication of beautiful memories to two beautiful beings. The interesting thing is, I’ll be doing it based on all my own experiences (I don’t have another choice). In my case, this means I’ll be combining the Dutch way with the Spanish way…

Will I buy a “Belén” just because my kids consider this part of (their) Spanish Christmas? Or will I stay true to my Dutch upbringing and memories? Will I choose to fly over to Holland with them if the canals freeze over, to strap skates to their feet as fast as I can?

I don’t know yet…

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