The last week of the year 2021 has begun–slotted between the Christmas weekend and the turn of the year. Unfortunately, due to a new Corona wave, the year ends in the Netherlands in a total lockdown. Following our tradition of going out for a nice meal on December 22, when we have our wedding anniversary (now the 57th), was impossible.
All in all, despite the limitations, we were able to enjoy the Christmas weekend. On Friday evening we followed the liturgy that the Christmas committee of our local Adventist Church had prepared, and brought in a small Christmas parcel to all members’ homes. Now that we could not meet physically, this was a very resourceful initiative. Without breaking the corona rules, we were able to accept the invitation of friends for a Christmas dinner. It was very tasty and very enjoyable. So good to have friends! For the Christmas service on Christmas Day, we chose to virtually attend the service in the beautiful Coventry Cathedral in the British city of Coventry. And on Boxing Day we enjoyed the ecumenical service in the Laurenskerk in Rotterdam–and in particular the choir of this church.
The last week of the year is also the time of all kinds of other, some rather banal, traditions. Since about twenty years, during this week the two thousand most popular songs are played one after the other on one of the radio stations. Newspapers and television columns review the most important events of the year, both the disasters and the happy events. Reviews are made of the most read books of the year and the most popular and least popular politicians, and of course the sportswoman and sportsman of the year, are chosen. Many of these things largely pass me by.
Like most people, these days I think mainly about what has happened in my own life in the past year. Both my wife Aafje and I have been spared the Covid-19 misery. It did come close when a number of people in our apartment building tested positive and also became quite ill. A week ago we had our booster shot, but we still remain quite cautious. In the past year we both had our cataract surgeries. Aafje hurt her foot and was not mobile for a few weeks, but all in all we are thankful that we made it through the year 2021 in reasonably good health. Except for a week in Denmark and a week in Germany, we were unable to travel, but we found much fulfillment in our creative activities. A special highlight was that in April I received a royal decoration. The certificate has a place of honor on the wall next to my desk.
Actually, I am not so good in looking back at what lies behind me, but mainly wonder what lies ahead. What will 2022 bring us? Will it be another year of Corona restrictions and will we need to get our fourth jab within a few months? In the coming year, I hope to reach the age of eighty. That sounds pretty old. In the past week, I twice visited people in a nursing home for the elderly. Naturally, I saw a lot of weak and invalid people there. Involuntarily, one thinks: Is that my future too? But that thought does not dominate.
On Friday night, during a program of the Dutch television organization Max, Jan Terlouw told an inspiring story that he had written. I admire this man enormously. He had an academic education in mathematics and physics, but his career eventually moved in the direction of politics. He also became well known as an author of novels and children’s books. He is a man with ideals and still expresses them in numerous talk shows. Jan Terlouw is now ninety years old, but he is still very active and creative, and his storytelling is still as sparkling as ever. When I see people like Jan Terlouw it gives me courage and I think: I hope that the good Lord will also continue to give me the health, energy and idealism to do positive things that have meaning for many people. It is with this hope that in a few days’ time I will enter 2022.