2018 came in with a big bang here in Amsterdam, or should I say a night of firework mayhem that would rival a small war zone? I was looking forward to ringing in the New Year with new friends at their rooftop apartment before anxiety took hold of me – and my small dog – with each loud boom starting in the afternoon heading into evening. Eventually, my pup and I were too unnerved to leave the house. As the clock struck midnight, the fireworks in unison, so it seemed, were set off everywhere in the city with a display out every window, front and back, in every color of the rainbow for hours. It was truly spectacular and impressive, along with the almost full moon in the background, watching from the windows in the comfort and safety of my own home.
People warned me Amsterdam was crazy and loud and a bit scary on New Year’s Eve. I just didn’t understand till I experienced it for myself. I shouldn’t be surprised the purchase and ignition of dangerous fireworks are permitted three days a year in a country that tolerates prostitution and weed, mopeds on bike paths and no helmets while riding bikes.
My neighbors, young and old were out on the streets lighting their pyrotechnics, then, standing back to watch the loud bursts and explosions illuminating the street. It resembles celebrations back home, only way, way bigger and more independent than our own Independence Day. The Dutch, underneath their serious and calm demeanors, really do love to be loud and colorful and party. You’d believe this if you were here on New Year’s too. If it weren’t for the immense pounding smoke bombs, spinners and firecrackers coupled with police and ambulance sirens, I’m sure I would love it.
I’m not a believer in New Year’s resolutions, trying to come up with some in years past only to have forgotten them soon after finding them. “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? We’ll take a cup of kindness yet for days of old lang syne.” Instead of making resolutions, I’ll take from this traditional Scottish poem, turned song, sung at midnight on the Eve, to forget what is worth forgetting and keep what is worth remembering from 2017. I’ll keep all the new friends I’ve made, adding them to my treasured group of “old” ones, I’ll keep my happy memories of travels and experiences with friends and family and throw out the few unsavory happenings. I’ll keep the belly laughs, the tears of joy, the proud mom moments, and bring them with me to charge into a new year. I’ll toss out the feelings of dread at the present political situation at home, as 2018 has already been coined the “Year of Women” giving me hope that, the times, they are changing, hopefully, for the better.
As expats, our path is somewhat unclear for the year ahead. Will we stay or will we go? Either way, I’m looking forward. With each leftover firecracker randomly set off here in the Dam, also setting off my nerves, I’ll take that cup of kindness to wash away the anxiety of New Year’s Eve in this magical city as I remind myself to plan to celebrate the end of this new year outside of Holland.