Sunday, June 15, 2008

Familiedag 2008

For Familiedag, we were just told to show up at (one of) Fred's sister's house at 11:00 and that we would be biking. I rode along side the oldest brother for a while. Fred was behind me. I'm glad because he always likes to predict where we're going because he knows where we are. I'm more the type to ride along and turn the corner and be surprised.

First, though, here's the set up for Familiedag. It started right after Fred's mother died five years ago (which was right after Fred's father died). A couple of the brothers suggested that it would be a good idea to have a family day so everyone could see each other at least once a year. It's a big family, so everyone sees someone during the year (some more than others) but they wanted to insure that everyone was together at the same time in the same place.

There are eight siblings. A sister and a brother (and their spouses) took the first year and then two brothers took the second year and we had the third year with one of the sisters and last year was the last two sisters. The first year was a barbecue. Lots of fun, sitting around, etc. Then we started doing things and it's become a big secret as to what we'll be doing that day. (There's some sort of a budget because they chip in throughout the year.) We did par 3 golfing one year. The year we did it, we went to Artis (a zoo) and had a tour. And last year we played old Dutch games. There's always eating and drinking.

So we showed up (late) got on our bikes and ended up at Museum De Cruquius. The web page is sort of crap, but the actual building is really interesting. I'll just say that it's a "former steam-driven pumping station of the Haarlemmermeer Polder." (By the way, the picture above is a scanned in postcard. There were no ponies there yesterday.) The building was started in 1847. The Dutch are pretty amazing with the whole moving water around and building dikes. It was pointed out to me (the lone American in the group) that the steam engine was the largest in the world. Not even America has a bigger one. Very interesting. Fun for the whole family.

After the museum, we went to (and this is when I was riding next to Fred and he said, "I bet we're going to...) play minigolf at Linnaeushof. Linnaeushof is the largest "speeltuin" (It's literally play garden, but I guess it's more like a playing park. It's not an amusement park) in all of Europe. We played 18 holes of what we always referred to as "putt putt" golf. Fred and I were on different teams - everyone was separated from their partner - and we got the same score: 66. We're totally connected - and competitive.

The rest of the park has lots of kids running around. It's a great place to go to tire your kids out. A lot of the rides are powered by the kids themselves. Peddle Peddle. Al Gore would love this place. And the rides that were powered with electricity were just ones where pretty low-tech. I would love to have stayed to see more, but we were on a schedule.

We at at Deux Cafe Deux. It's a nice restaurant in Heemstede. It's a place so off the beaten path (but very popular) that they didn't even have an English menu, although I didn't ask. I had spare ribs. I enjoyed it. We left full. If you're in the neighborhood, it sounds like it's a pretty dependable restaurant. Good service (I know. Right?) and reasonably priced.

Familiedag is such a great idea. To get my family together once a year would be an exercise is frustration management. We're just too fractured. But these people seem to really enjoy each other's company. And even if they don't particularly want to hang around someone all the time, their family. That's something that doesn't compute in mine. I'm fortunate to be a part of this family. Like those Mannings, it's just a great place to be and you can feel the connection.

We didn't take a camera, but we got these two pictures at the end. Everyone got the same picture with the same pose. Sort of funny to see everyone like that.


Littlelou said...

Familiedag sounds lovely, but like you I can't see it happening with MY family. We don't hate each other we just don't seem to really give that much of a damn about one another. My mum and my brother I love and speak to often but even just the 3 of us together is a stress! Everyone else is peripheral..except of course my Mister (and my dog!!)

Anonymous said...

Its a lovely way of staying connected, and I have heard of other families in the Netherlands having one annual get together.
I am sure there are families in Britain who do it too - but I don't know any
I think you just have to be brave and be the first to suggest it, and not get miffed if one member of the family cannot come along the first time.
Any tradition has to have a beginning.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting concept, Family Day, who handles the valium concession,

Great pictures, old golfers never die, they just lose their balls.