Everyone in the Vreugdenhil family is involved in the Winter Wonderlandscape

Hermen Vreugdenhil
Genealogiecode: N XI j.4
Door: Petra Vissers
Bron: Trouw.nl
Foto: Werry Crone

Our question is: how do people create Christmas joy? We asked creative people to tell us their solutions. Hermen Vreugdenhil, for example, builds a miniature Christmas train-track each year. In their livingroom, a tiny cable-lift crosses a small pond with ice-skaters. The beautiful wintery landscape is something that Hermen builds back up each year, together with his four sons. “After St. Nicholas has left, the large baseplate is placed in the livingroom, followed by the train tracks first, and then the rest of the large city build around it.”

Christmas landscape
According to Vreugdenhil the entire family helps building. Sometimes the entire family works together, one connecting the switches for the train tracks, the other creating a snow-capped mountain. But in other times his sons work on it on their own. “Then I suddenly hear Christmas music playing and someone starts building.” Above the christmas village a cable-lift is set-up. The building of the landscape is a tradition the family has been keeping up for several years now.

Christmas village
It might be that this year’s Christmas village will build bigger than usual. It will be placed underneath the stairs, in front of the bookcase containing books and games. A new addition this year is a monastery inspired by one known by the family from their many cycling tours in the mountains. “We love mountains and cycle racing. Lacets the Montvernier is a beautiful climb that ends at a monastery. You can buy train-decoration on websites such as Marktplaats, but it’s way more fun to create something yourself. You almost become a young child again.” Vreugdenhil clearly loves the creativity. “It’s a great way of relaxing. Plus the entire family can play with the train.” “Those switches all have buttons with which you can change them, guiding trains to different tracks. Young or old, every day we play with it for half an hour”

“It’s like this that family moments are build into the village the entire family works on during the month of December.”

Hermen celebrates Christmas with his wife and children only. His sons are home with Christmas, which is nice too. “We’re a close-knit family and really enjoy being together,” Vreugdenhil states. “We have a large house, which helps a lot, that is decorated really nicely, making it feel warm and cozy. And we’re going to the Biesbosch [one of the largest national parks in the Netherlands as well as one of the last extensive areas of freshwater tidal wetlands in Northwestern Europe] and enjoy nature.” “The sons will probably hang the Christmas lights in the village again this year, together with the animals in the nativity scene,”laughs Vreugdenhil. “You see: the whole family participates.”