I arrived in Amsterdam mid morning on Christmas Eve. It was only the second time I would get to spend this holiday with Jay and I couldn’t wait to see him! I anxiously awaited my suitcase in baggage claim, knowing that he was just on the other side of the glass waiting for me. After almost everyone else from my flight collected their luggage I finally spotted mine on the belt, quickly grabbed it, and headed for the exit…and Jay!
I always love the first moment I see Jay after a long time of being separated from each other. The skies were cloudy and the wind was cold, but this didn’t get in the way of our reunion. We picked up a rental car and headed back to Jay’s apartment to drop off my bag before starting our real adventures.
After a quick hello to Jay’s parents we headed off to the city center for some lunch. First one the menu: McDonald’s! Normally this wouldn’t be my first choice of meal in a new country, especially since I’d been consuming airport and airplane meals for the past day, but I learned that the Dutch restaurants offer a unique menu item that I convinced myself I needed to try. So Jay and I took the metro to McDonald’s for our first romantic lunch date of the trip.
McDonald’s was shockingly busy for Christmas Eve, but even with a majority of the tables already filled we managed to beat the main lunch rush. While Jay ordered a burger and fries, I bravely went for the McKroket (according to the box it’s World Famous in the Netherlands) with a back-up meal of chicken nuggets. I excitedly examined the box (it had nice little pictures and facts on the side) before taking a look at the “world famous” McKroket. It looked…pretty mediocre, but I still snapped a few pictures before digging in. Like most croquettes, it had a nicely fried crust filled with a hot mystery goo center.
After lunch Jay and I walked around the shops a bit before heading back to make dinner. Jay was in charge of his own “world famous” dish. I helped him make two different lasagnas (one meat and one mushroom) and then we joined the rest of his family for Christmas Eve festivities. I sleepily ate some lasagna and then we all decided to open presents.
There are so many people in my family that we all open presents at the same time. We can then wander around the living room to see what gifts everyone got and to thank each other for the presents. In Jay’s family it is a one-by-one activity. Everyone takes turns opening one present each, alternating between people until there are no presents left under the tree. I was nervous to take part in this tradition because I’m not a fan of the spotlight, but after 3 long hours all of the presents were successfully unwrapped and we could take our Christmas loot back to Jay’s apartment….and there was a lot of it!
I can’t thank Jay and his family enough for making me feel so welcome during the holidays. Spending Christmas Eve with them instead of my own family was a first, but everyone really seemed to enjoy showing me their traditions and giving me gifts. It was a very long day filled with travel, McKrokets, and Christmas Eve festivities but it was the perfect way to kickstart my trip.