It’s the Christmas season again and I’m starting to feel joy, and I’m super grateful for the wonderful people in my life. I have a glass of red wine, I’m listening to Frank wishing me a merry Christmas, my son is sleeping and I have just cut short a potential Netflix marathon to write this. Life is good.
I was reminded of how lucky I am a couple of times this week. The first, I am glad I have the most relaxed and super flexible job ever. Moving to the Netherlands 4 years ago I have reluctantly given up any hope of climbing heights in my career to pursue a family. I wanted to do both but realised it wasn’t possible for my situation. I was an A-type planner, although slowly nothing went to plan.
I now work in finance in the European offices of a great big American company. Because we are a service centre we are largely forgotten about and definitely no money is spent on us. I work in an Industry park surrounded by farms. My knowledge of farming has increased 100 fold in 4 years, my knowledge of finance has stagnated, because not once in my time at the company have we been offered to attend a training course. Until last week… Our new Auditors; PwC, decided they wanted to update their clients on recent US GAAP and Sarbanes Oxley changes. Oh I have lost you already! Such a boring subject you say, presented by people in brown cardigans and thick rimmed glasses! But for us, this was a chance to leave the office and learn something. It was free, otherwise my company wouldn’t allow us to go!
I haven’t worn business attire in 4 years because jeans, t-shirt and sneakers is appropriate where I work as I navigate the horse dung when I walk around the office at lunch time. So with nostalgia I put on a suit and drove to the big smoke.. Amsterdam. My colleagues and I pulled into the parking garage at PwC and were intimidated by the security guards welcoming us to the office. It was hard to find to a parking spot amongst all the Mercedes getting recharged. I’m glad to see staff making the most of their energy efficient lease plans. As we found our seminar room I was shocked at the ostentatiousness of the office. How much money do we pay them?
I looked around and saw a room full of over worked and very tired and bored looking finance people. I looked at my colleagues.. I swear we looked awake, interested and engaged! The meeting finished and we all piled into our cars and drove out into the daily traffic jam. At 7pm I came home, paid the nanny and had just 1 hour to spend with my son before bed. I thought people do these long hours every day, and in this moment I discovered that I couldn’t. (oh every now and then, but not every day!). I read two books to my son, instead of the usual one and savoured just one more toothy smile before he slept. My job lets me begin early and leave early. If I need to work over time, which is very rare, I can do it at home. I am super lucky, we just make ends meet and me and my husband rarely need the nanny.
December 5th is Christmas presents day for the kids in Holland. Each year we gather at my husband’s brothers house to do Sinterklaas night. This year my son was treated to a new array of carefully chosen but bloody annoying electronic toys. The helicopter toy is ok but the remote control is annoying.. “Ik ben de afstandsbediening” it shouts.. as if a kid is going to remember that word! I sat Thomas on the floor with his new toys and he promptly picked up the actual remote control with interest and shoved the plastic toy one in his mouth. Doh, that one isn’t going to last long! It’s weird for me to celebrate these Dutch festive days that I haven’t grown up with but each year I love them a little bit more and appreciate my new Dutch family.
We are also lucky to look forward to a few things.. On Christmas Eve we are going to the beach, On Jan 5th is Thomas’ first birthday and on Jan 18 we finally go home to NZ and my son will see my parents for the first time.
Currently I am enjoying each day.. I am juggling my sons therapists, I’m in a routine at the gym and I’m trying to learn Dutch. I have just discovered my gym has a free Solarium. Not that I want a tan but it feels so nice.. I swear I have post natal depression with a bit of seasonal activity disorder thrown in! It’s a bit wrong but I am covered in sunscreen when I go the gym and only do one exercise and follow it up with a solarium! It is bliss. (I’ll be a fit Oompa loompa soon!)
So there is a lot of bliss and Joy for me this December, I’m hoping everyone else shares in it too 🙂