Friday, December 02, 2005


It's unbelievable, really, how quickly Olivia has recovered from the surgery to remove her hemangioma. Just twenty-four hours after lying on an operating table in the AMC Hospital, Olivia was chasing her brother through the corridors of our apartment -- shrieking and laughing as she toddled along in her pajamas. Her hair cascaded in a golden bend over the white bandage protecting the incision site -- much in the same way that it used to bend over the bulge of strawberry-fleshed tumor that had previously dominated her forehead. It's been almost as if she's been in a better mood since surgery, and not the cranky drugged-up mess-of-a-child that we had anticipated. And, well, I guess you could say that we've just been surprised at how well things have gone this week. Surprised, and grateful for such an unexpected gift.

By midday, we overcame our incredulity and decided that Olivia was actually well enough to go out for a little excursion -- a trip to the Dam, to let my tourist mother experience a bit of the wintermarkt and the general buzz of holiday shopping in the heart of old Amsterdam. We picked up some small gifts at the Bijenkorf and had lunch overlooking the skating rink. Then, noting that it was getting close to nap-time for the kids, we arranged for Marci and my Mom to keep shopping while I took Elliot and Olivia on the tram home.

When we reached our neighborhood and disembarked from the tram, Elliot and Olivia were fighting over who got to play with the empty Cola-Light bottle -- thus it was I who first spotted the unusual characters on the far side of the Cilliersstraat, climbing into a beat-up Peugeot. But as soon as I exclaimed "Kijk!" and pointed to the surreal scene in front of us, the children's eyes brightened with surprise and excitemenet: it was two Zwarte Pieten, accompanied by none other than Sinterklaas himself! The photo above captured the moment beautifully. Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten were more than enthusiastic to interact with the wide-eyed Elliot. Olivia watched the whole scene with wonder, as Elliot received some pepernoten and the privilege of shaking the hand of the big man in red.

We walked away from the encounter with a sense of awe and mystery -- pleasantly surprised by the experience. Surprised, and grateful for such an unexpected gift.


At 5:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great photo! So, Elliot is no longer afraid of Zwarte Piet! Leslie is here visiting and we've been talking about your amazing son and I'm just tempted to call one day to talk with him! He's a very special boy. Glad to hear all is going well.



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