If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


25 DECEMBER, 2016

Donkerstraat / Dark street

DELFT - Historically, the town is Christian and carries on with that theme through the short daylight days around solstice. Now begins the rebirth brought on by gradually longer days. But first, winter. Merry Christmas from Delft, the Netherlands.

The weather site tells me the days are just over 9 hours long now. That equates to 3 hours more of dark. Settle a layer of low, wet clouds over the land, and it seems like no one turned on the lights today. Which is why Delft strings lights along the streets, across most canals, and erects a large evergreen in the Grote Markt, big market. There is a lighting ceremony when the tree blazes into color and a multi-street Christmas fair in the center. We banish the darkness with light.


"Donkerstraat is a few streets town ward from me, and I have friends who live there. Every year, the residents set up a tree and decorate electric lines and leaf-less bushes. It is a ritual they engage in together, a local community event. Gezellig / cozy and pleasant."

Tommie was married to a gambler who often took trade when he won. My mother fancied a wall clock and was delighted to discover a hidden, secret compartment containing loose diamonds. She let me have the ornaments.

We also found a case of Coke-Cola in Tommie's fridge. The caps were rusted. Tommie grew up in the Depression and could not afford a coke then. Later, she always kept a case in the house.

There is an angel for the top of a tree, and I have a very cheap santa in front of a fireplace. They are from my time as a child.

There are other festive figures, some also from my childhood, that need setting out and placed along a row. I've added little toys to the display.

Americans have an old-fashioned notion of 'going home for Christmas'. Its in our only-at-Christmas songs and decorations. I go home too but in my heart and in my memories while my body stays in Delft, comfortable in front of the fireplace.

Like most people, I have a storage box that holds Christmas from year to year. Now it comes out of way back in the closet; I almost hear an excited cheer from the contents. They are out of their box for a while and eager. The wrapping paper crinkles.

There is the set of hand-made ducks, in primary colors and decorated with sequins and glitter. On my mother's side, cousin Lois, who lived in Luling, Texas, and her Sewing Club made them one year to sell for the poor, and I bought a bunch.

Well cushioned, there is a set of frosted candles from the 1920's which belonged to my mother's cousin Tommie. When this cousin died, my mother inherited. Among the contents of her home were her old-style shiny Christmas ornaments.

Last year I found a bush on the ground where someone had tossed it, and it was the tree for my scene. Its been outside now and prefers that. I'll have to find something else this year. The toys expect a tree, so I'll make one out of lights.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen