Or, my two favourite late-night delights
As a young child, my bedtime was 8:00 p.m. Many kids today may balk at that early hour but I had no problem going to bed at that time.
I actually liked it.
But there were two nights out of the year that I loved to stay up; Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
On New Year’s Eve, we stayed up late, playing games like Monopoly or Pit together as a family. On occasion, we would celebrate the incoming new year with our cousins.
Regardless of how we celebrated, we always enjoyed a Dutch treat called Oliebol. Oliebol is a dough (similar to a donut) that’s deep-fried and rolled in powdered sugar.
Nothing beat shouting out 10–9–8–7–6–5–4–3–2–1 at midnight with a mouth full of Oliebol!
On Christmas Eve, we also stayed up late. However, instead of putting on our warm jammies to play our games, we dressed up in our Christmas best to attend Midnight Mass.
Midnight Mass was the only late evening service of the year. It started at midnight to honour the tradition that Jesus was born in Bethlehem at midnight.
Generally, I hated being crammed into the small back seat of our little grey Datsun 510 but on cold winter nights, I felt cozy and warm sitting shoulder to shoulder with my brothers.
We had to leave a little early to beat the CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only) and get a good seat. Otherwise, we might end up in the choir section.
I loved this mass because of the excitement and joy that permeated the ceremony. The reading came from the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke when Baby Jesus is born and the Angels herald the Good News to the shepherds tending their flocks.
After midnight mass, we’d return home for Christmas breakfast. Mom set the dining room table with a white linen tablecloth and the good china. Dad lit the last of the advent candles and led us in prayer before sitting down to enjoy a Dutch tradition of uitsmijters — an open-faced sandwich with iceberg lettuce and black forest ham, topped with a fried egg, eaten with knife and fork.
We followed this breakfast with the opening of one present before retiring to bed.
Even though, on this night, I went to sleep way later than my 8:00 p.m. bedtime, I had no problem waking early the next morning!
(First featured on Medium platform December 3, 2021)