It’s Christmas 2013 and for the third year in a row we are in Switzerland with our Swiss family to celebrate the holidays—a wonderful new tradition for us. Unlike what you might expect of Switzerland, we are not having a white Christmas. The skies are blue, the sun is shining, the temperature is mild, and we have a great view of the snow-covered Alps so we can’t complain!
Through the magic of Facebook, Skype, email, and because we have had so many visitors, many of you already know what a fairy-tale year we have had in 2013. Our move to Amsterdam has been positive in every imaginable way; in fact, it’s been positive in ways we could not imagine. We are more in love with this city than we were in 2011 when we lived here for four months. There is a vibrant energy in every neighborhood, every event, and every street, and to us, the Dutch people are the most welcoming, nicest people we have ever met. Our new home is a dream come true; our remodeling was not stressful in any way, we worked with fabulous people, and it was fun to create a home out of a house.
Best of all, we had many visitors this past year and we thank each one for taking the time to come and see us. Unlike in Hawaii where we were busy working all the time, we are now able to spend time with our guests, so we gave lots of tours and had many bike rides and picnics, and we also had many dinner parties with our new Dutch friends. Plus this year, Sharene’s annual girl’s trip occurred in Amsterdam; the 18th year of traveling together!
When we don’t have company, we fill our days with studying Dutch, going to movies, and working on other projects big and small. Harrison has been doing a lot of web work recently on our hotel websites (MauiHotels.com and its sister sites) as well as our personal website www.klein.org. Many of our friends who received the email newsletters we sent out during our “year of being homeless” in 2011 asked if we could make them available in blog form, so Harrison has been hard at work converting each of the over 52 weekly emails into klein.org blog posts (this post was originally an email as well).
We had some amazing experiences traveling to Berlin and Hungary this year, as well as an “interesting” (you can read between the lines on that one) bike and barge trip to France. One highlight (of many) during 2013 was our housewarming party in September. We had over 65 people there and all but two were new Dutch friends; the other two were our dear friends Jeanne and Mike who were visiting from California. It was a great party, complete with a boogie woogie piano player on Harrison’s newly refurbished Baldwin baby grand.
The second highlight was Sharene’s birthday—celebrated in the same apartment where she lived in the ’80s when she and Harrison were dating! Her best friend Cathy has been living there since then and hosted a fabulous girl’s party with six of her dearest friends and her sister Linda. It was a magical day.
We are so grateful for the life we are living and our good health. We could have moved (almost) anywhere, and we think Amsterdam is the best place in the world for us. And we are very happy that so many of our friends think so too, because the best lesson we have learned is how important it is to spend time with those you care about. We like to think our friends and family would visit us wherever we are, but it helps that we’re here!
We want to extend a warm, heartfelt greeting to each and every one of you and hope that good health and little bit of your own magic will be part of your 2014.
Fijne Feestdagen! (Happy Holidays!)
Harrison & Sharene