I’ve started the long journey back to Seattle for Christmas, then on to Colorado for some time with my parents before returning to the Netherlands at New Years. It’s a nice time of year to be passing through airports: lots of happy people anticipating seeing family and friends, decorations at every stop, shopping opportunities along the way.
I do a fair amount of damage in duty free this time of year: people want Belgian chocolate liqueurs, Christmas sweets, UK puddings and preserves, Dutch cheeses, and exotic tree and window decorations. And, improbably, Borrel Mix and mini-stroops from the AH at Schiphol.
Decorations generally seem more muted this year: more random strings of lights and giant baubles than recognizable figures and objects. There are more decorated trees than I remember, and lots more deep discounts in the shops.
And I stayed awake for a lovely, middle-of-the night partial sunrise over Greenland. Totally un-photographable, but a brilliant deep orange half-circle against the white mountains and deep blue twilight of the arctic north.
And finally back: I know I’ve arrived when I pass the surly customs agents protecting the Homeland and pass through the bus station in Seatle’s Westlake Center.
When I start navigating the wet layer of snow icing the streets, coating the evergreens and cedars.
…and, definitively, when the pain chocolat are frosted in the bakeries, and columnists are fulminating about Sarah Palin’s new Christmas Book instead of the evils of the EU.