Sadie, my brother’s late dog, trembled every time she heard a bang. She would have gone berserk today if she was on a visit to the Netherlands. When we awoke this morning in The Hague, the fireworks had already started. The Dutch ignore any rules and safety standards and people of all ages and demographics shoot off fireworks throughout the day. All of these fireworks suggest celebration, but their frequency and early start is confusing, diluting the ritual of saving the fanfare for midnight to mark the changing of the year and new beginnings.

Earlier today while on a walk with a friend, I noted a few Christmas trees that had been thrown curbside. I would bet good money that these trees will not make it into the city tree recycling program, but will be pine scented kindling for bonfires in our neighborhood this evening. Two years ago when walking home from a friend’s house, we saw a rather impressive burning pile of rubbish surrounded by red-faced merry makers on a street corner at 2am without a police car in sight.

But these incidents are just small potatoes to what happens in downtown Amsterdam. Want to take your life in your own hands? Join the throngs of people from all over the world that head to this party capital for New Years and watch the fireworks stream overhead (or through the crowd toward your knee cap) in glorious chaos.

I’ll be celebrating this year in a quiet neighborhood with another family with young children, so I’m afraid I won’t have many newsworthy photos to share, but I will add, that the boys (my son and his friend down the street) are VERY excited about the bag of fireworks we brought home today for their post sunset enjoyment.

Happy New Year to all of you, wherever you may be! Enjoy the chaos!

Kristin in Holland

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