A Party Fit for a King?
It’s not often we get to play at a birthday party for a King, but we did on April 27, at the Richmond Woods Retirement Residence. Just after we arrived we were told by the recreation director, who just happens to be Dutch, that the 27th of April is the birthday of King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands and the birthday party was on.
I was curious about how the Dutch celebrated the day, so during our break I approached the two ladies wearing orange in the front row seats. "Good afternoon ladies, you are Dutch?" I asked. "Of course," said the lady wearing the T-shirt with "NEDERLAND" written across the front. The other lady with the orange sweater began to speak to me. . . in Dutch. "Sorry," I said, "I don’t speak Dutch." "You don’t speak Dutch?" she said, looking surprised. "No" I said, "Not everyone in the band is Dutch." I said, suddenly feeling like an outsider. My feeling was shor- lived when the other lady said. "Well I am so glad that you are part of the band that keeps our traditions alive." Then she added. "We enjoyed the music so much. We sang along with the Dutch tunes that you played." We know the music, they knew the words and sang along. How perfect is that?
We never got around to talking about the King. We spoke of Holland and what it was like for them growing up there during the war; about when they came to Canada, etc. Then the lady in the orange sweater said, "I see that you don’t have an accordion in your band. I was looking for an accordion. You should have one. "Sorry, no accordion," I said. "I used to play the accordion for dances back home." She said. "They were held often in barns. It was wonderful."
I found out later, what all Dutch people know, that the King’s birthday or "Koningsdag" is a national holiday in the Netherlands. It was Queen’s Day, celebrated on April 30th until 2014 when Queen Beatrix abdicated in favour of her son. It is a day filled with music, games, and free markets (yard sales). Some people paint their faces or dye their hair orange. Orange drinks are served. (I don’t think they mean orange juice.)
So next year King Willem-Alexander will be 52. If we have the opportunity to go back to the Richmond Woods for another "Koningsdag", we will be better prepared. We will include some extra Dutch music. wear orange, and raise a glass (of orange juice) to the King. Now if we just had an accordion to spice up a polka or two, at least one resident would feel that we had taken a significant step toward making the party one that was fit for a King.