When I was young we would typically get a Christmas Package from my grandmother. It would usually arrive in early December, to coincide with St. Nicholas Day — Sinterklaas — (December 6th), when the Dutch traditionally did their gift exchanges.
In the package would be a variety of things, much of which didn’t really interest me.
But a few things most definitely did.
My grandmother introduced me to Legos, and each year — either for Sinterklass or my birthday a couple of months prior — she’d send me some more. I still have most of them, and have fond memories of spending hours building who-knows-what. These weren’t the kits of today, these were mostly building blocks, and what you created was entirely up to you.
It fed the budding engineer in me quite well.
Also included in the annual package were traditional Dutch holiday treats. Honey cake (ontbijkoak), Marzipan filled pastry (banket), of course marizpan on its own, double salt licorice (dubbel zout drop), Dutch rusk (beschuit) for my mother, and much, much more.
At the top of the list for me? Hagelslag. Chocolate sprinkles. A Dutch treat and tradition if there ever was one. Hagelslag op brood … chocolate sprinkles on (buttered) bread, ideally toast. (Seriously, the hotel I stayed at in Holland last year included it with their breakfast buffet.)
Obviously I’m grateful for the memories, but you know what I’m really, REALLY grateful for these days?
I don’t have to wait until Christmas.
Most of the links above are to online stores where I can order the treats of my youth with the click of a mouse. Heck, much of it — including Hagelslag, even — are available on Amazon.
The world has become so much smaller than it ever was.
My memories need never be far away.