About Once Upon a Word: We're a large group of multi-talented authors working together, to bring you the best romances.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas in the Netherlands by: Stephanie Burkhart

Visiting different countries around the world during Christmas can be fun. I remember being stationed in Germany (I was in the US Army from 1986-1997) and going to Kris Kringle markets. The markets were wooden shops in the town's downtown pedestrian area or shopping markets. They sold everything – mulled cider and wine, sausages, marzipan, handcrafted wood ornaments, and knitted items. Even though I was in a different country, I knew Christmas was in the air.

This year, my story in the 2012 Christmas Collection (from Victory Tales Press) takes you to Amsterdam. My first trip to Amsterdam was in the early 1990's. It has such a unique look with the narrow facades made of bricks, and gables attached high on the houses to lift furniture. Amsterdam, to me, had an "earthy" look – canals ran through the city. The main train station was a formable building, reminding me of an old European fortress. I found the hard rock cafĂ©, the red light district, and the docks.

My story is called "Gifts" in the anthology. Chris Janssen is an Olympic pairs figure skater who needs to find a new partner. Enter Famke deVries. Her brother is Chris' best friend. Chris is attracted to Famke, but will his attraction derail their goal to make the Olympic team?

One of their early "dates" involves a visit to the Kris Kringle market. Famke wants to buy clogs for her family in preparation for Sinterklaas' visit.

In the Netherlands, Dutch children learn Sinterklaas sails from Spain on his feast day (5 DEC). He lands on the coast in a different harbor every year with his partner "Zwarte Piet" (Black Peter). All the bells ring out in the town when he lands and if Sinterklaas makes it to Amsterdam, he pays a special visit to the Queen.

The children leave out their clogs and Sinterklaas fills them with presents. Zwarte Piet is in charge of the naughty/nice list. Zwarte tells Sinterklaas if the little one has earned their presents for the year.

Many people in the Netherlands decorate a Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus comes from Finland and delivers more presents. Christmas is more low key. Many go to religious services and visit family. The main meal usually consists of shrimp from the North Sea, smoked fish, (salmon & eels) roast chicken or meat (boar/beef/venison) seasonal veggies and deep fried ice cream. Yum. I'm a fish person so the menu appeals to me.

Question: What do you like to cook/eat for your Christmas meal? I'd love to hear your menu.

Have you been to the Netherlands or Amsterdam? I'd love to hear your adventure.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She's visited several town and cities in the Netherlands; her favorite is the Keukenhof in Lisse, where she fell in love with the tulips.


BLURB:  Will Christian and Famke's attraction interfere with them earning a spot on the Netherlands Olympic pairs skating team?

Short Excerpt:

Stephen turned onto a street in the Noord district of Amsterdam where he lived. The apartment buildings were about five stories tall, but weren't very wide. Stephen drove his compact car into a parking structure near his building. "We're here."

"I need a nice long bath and a bite to eat." Famke stepped out and shut her door.

"Chris, can you take her to the apartment? I'll run to the store for some food."

"Sure." Chris opened the trunk and grabbed her bag.

"I can take it." She gestured for the bag, but Chris waved her off.

"I've got it." He paused. "I always insist on carrying a lady's bags."

"But, Chris—"

"And you are a lady," he said.

Smiling, Famke nodded, discovering a small dimple in his cheek when
he smiled so warmly.








1 comment:

  1. Hi Steph! I loved your story in the anthology and wondered if you lived in Germany before. Alas, I was never stationed there during my own military days, but many of my buddies and their families had stories to tell.


Comments relevant to the blog post are welcome as long as they are noninflammatory and appropriate for everyone of all ages to read.
Thank you for your interest and input.