Has it already been four years since the last World Cup? Here we are again, and with England not even making it to the round of 16 (for the first time since 1958!), our household is once again pinning its hopes of soccer glory on Holland's national team, the Oranje.
It's a great chance to balance the family heritages out a little bit; the Irish side can fall back on St. Patrick's Day, storytelling, singing, drinking and Glory's Irish dancing. The Dutch side is left with the distant memory of being a 17th century superpower, wooden footwear, and a current legacy of liberal permissiveness and a reputation for frugality that borders on the unsettling, whether or not it is deserved.
Audrey's folks were up last weekend for Fenya's profession of faith, and we took the opportunity to watch Germany v. Ghana (and as much as I love the quality of play Die Adler brings to the pitch, we were all cheering throatily for Ghana's Black Stars!), followed by a trip to Ben's Meats.
Ben's Meats is a family-owned Dutch deli and butcher shop on Stony Plain Road that is normally our source for quality licorice (especially the double salted!) and other ethnic treats like metwurst (a dry sausage like landjaeger but with spices like cloves added), but during international soccer matches becomes a great place to get jerseys, car flags and other paraphernalia declaring our football allegiance to the Netherlands.
Audrey's folks picked up a Dutch tricolour for their truck, Audrey got a jersey, and I picked up a cap as well as some orange mirror covers for the Flex, since the window covers prevent the attachment of a flag.
Since Holland progressed to the round of 16, we were all prepared to forego church this morning in favour of watching KNVB take on the Mexican team, until Audrey reminded us that our friend Tani would be preaching as part of her training to become a diaconal minister (what you would once have called a deaconess). So we set the PVR, and pledged not to listen to the radio or check the internet until after we had returned home to watch the recorded game.
Tani's sermon was excellent, weaving Jesus's parables about the kingdom of God (mustard seed, pearl, etc.) together with Buddhism's Noble Truths and C.S. Lewis's Narnia series, along with her own experience of being admonished for buying a homeless man outside a convenience store a coffee and muffin. Great stuff! Before going to church however, I was told in no uncertain terms that I would need to be flying the team colours in church along with the ladies if I intended to sit with them, which is why I went to church in a t-shirt for the first time since I was 11.
After church, we maintained radio silence, grilled up some buffalo smokies (brilliant!), and headed downstairs to watch Oranje beat el Tri 2-1 in a nail biter of a match played in sweltering heat, and now we have a week to wait before they face off against either Greece or Costa Rica in the quarter finals.
Another trip to Ben's Meats may be in order...