I awoke today with with a pain in my chest. I recognise it now: pangs. Christmas pangs. Honest-to-Claus wistfulness and nostalgia for the Christmas season. But I didn’t recognise it then.

I’ve been trying all day to fill that yawning seasonal darkness with busywork: making homemade eggnog (delicious!) listening to Christmas tunes (festive!), and even purchasing a Christmas tree (Lopsided! Heavy!).

I also put up some Christmas lights, ordered a Christmas turkey and baked blueberry muffins. (Not Christmassy but still: freshly baked goodness!) Only in retrospect do I see what I’m doing: trying to wrestle some Christmasness into my life here.

It’s not easy. Here in the Netherlands they’re really all about Sinterklaas (a very different fellow from Santa Claus – obviously – who’s already come and gone with his presents, merriment and racism). And Amsterdam Christmas seems perfunctory.

And at home well, it just feels not so festive. So I’ve tried to correct that with some signifiers of Christmas spirit, but I can’t tell if it’s all that successful.

But I’m hoping watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while drinking some strong rum and egg nogs will put me right. So that’s what I’m going to do.