I have always loved Christmas. I feel it is a time for cosiness and introspection, and so I try to pay special attention to those around me and honour the blessings I receive. It only makes sense to spend Christmas in Amsterdam, for it is here that I feel home.
Some of you might be acquainted with the fact that my mum usually spends Christmas in Amsterdam with me. This year will be an exception. Mum is spending Christmas in the tropics and, oh well, who can blame her? So I will recap some of the things we have done together on Christmasses from previous years so that I both celebrate this lovely lady from whom I got my smile (they say) and hopefully give you some ideas for the following days.
# 1) Take your mom out for a jenever
Jenever is the local spirit in The Netherlands, and there’s nothing like getting to know a country through its alcoholic beverages (ever heard the expression Dutch Courage?). Last year, this is how we started Christmas Eve, my mom and me. We went to the jenever cafe “In de Olofspoort”, and met Riny Reiken, the owner of the place, who’s a good friend of ours. I got myself an old jenever and, for mum, her favourite chocolate liqueur because, yeah, calling my mom a sweet tooth is an understatement.
# 2) Go together on the Amsterdam Light Festival Tour
Amsterdam Light Festival is such a huge highlight of the cold season. I’ve always been of the opinion that Amsterdam is at its peak of beauty at night. Touring the canals in the evening and getting mesmerized by the light installations is travelling worlds without getting out of the same place.
# 3) Take her for coffee + cake:
I’m a sucker for cake thanks to my mom, I feel. It must be in the genes. As for coffee, it is a mystery. My mom doesn’t drink coffee. To make up for that, she can have hot chocolate every day, like a child. So that’s what she orders everywhere, hence the list below. Top favourites of my mom in Amsterdam, in no specific order:
>> Hot chocolate and appeltaart – Winkel 43
>> Hot chocolate and a cinnamon scone – Bakkerswinkel Westerpark
>> Vegan hot chocolate and whatever the amazing cake of the day – Koffie ende Koeck
>> Hot chocolate and pumpkin pie – Hoxton Hotel
# 4) Take your mom to dinner at Tavenu + film at The Movies
Tavenu + Movies are always an obvious choice for me (I wrote about that already). I love The Movies. I love how classy one feels there. I love its restaurant. I love how everything’s red and velvety and twenties.
# 5) Introduce your mom to Dutch food at Moeders
I feel Moeders serves Dutch food at its best: it’s traditional Dutch food but with an upgraded twist. And they serve a delicious vegetarian stamppot! I still didn’t take my mum there. The day I do, I want to surprise her with a picture of ours hanging on the wall. Yeah, cause the restaurant is full of pictures of mothers, and you can add up to their collection!
[Last year, we had our Christmas Eve meal at a Thai restaurant, conveniently located close to the genever cafe where we had started the evening. De Kooning van Siam is an elegant place, the service matches the looks, and the food is delicious. Adam and Siam is another option, at the Rokin – I never ate there, but it is supposed to be good, and the interior is stunning. ]
# 6) Go attend a service together
Last year I had this idea of attending a Christmas mass together with my mom, to foster the season’s spirituality. We went to the service at the English Reformed Church at the lovely inner court Begijnhof in Spui so that mum could understand what was said. I would like to attend the service at the Westerkerk next time. It’s supposed to be a very special and beautiful ceremony.
# 7) Go meditate together
My mother got bored at the mass, last year. Me too. I guess we’re no traditionalists. This year, I’d rather take her to a meditation. She’d love that. Delight Yoga has two very good options for the 25th: Yoga Nidra (which is a guided meditation) and Awareness Meditation.
# 8) Pick the museum that would interest her the most and GO!
This is a no-brainer but still, people forget about this option, maybe because everything that comes to mind is the Van Gogh and its neverending queues. I’ve been to different museums with my mom. This time, wasn’t she in the tropics and I’d take her to the exhibitions at the Oude Kerk (Christian Boltanski’s Na) and the Nieuwe Kerk (We have a dream, on the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela).
# 9) Take her to a concert
Last year we went to a cosy live Brazilian concert by Clube do Samba, on Christmas day, at the brown cafe Monumentje, in the Jordaan. (Yes!, They’re doing it this year again!). It was lovely. Monumentje is an interesting place for mom because it’s so different from what she’s used to and most of its regulars are her age. She’s no big fan of the old looks of the place (she prefers the modernity of the Hoxton) but I personally love it. She enjoyed the music and the atmosphere though!
# 10) Take your mum the theatre with English surtitles at the Stadsschowburg. Or take her to a cosy storytelling night at the Mezrab!
These plans are on my bucket list of interesting things to do with my mom. At the Stadsschouwburg, you can introduce her to Dutch theatre. At the Mezrab you’ll hear stories in English, in an intimate setting. If she doesn’t speak English, they organize music evenings at the Mezrab too!
# 11) Organize a dinner with your friends… and your mum!
Three years ago we have organized a cosy Christmas Eve dinner at home, with friends. We cooked codfish, my mum and me, which is what we traditionally eat in Portugal on Christmas. After dinner, we played some records from the 60’s and 70’s and everyone danced. A friend of mine invited my mother for a few dances, which made her really happy!
HAPPY CHRISTMAS, dear friends! May this season be a comfy and enlightening one. Have fun with your mum, step mum, dad, or if you’re away from home and loved ones, give your full attention to the people around you. ❤