17 March 1980
Dear Mother and Daddy,
Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope you are wearing green, because I'm not. I forgot all about it until I looked at the calendar this morning. Oh well, the Koreans don't know about pinching, so I'm safe.
I enjoyed the long phone call yesterday, but you must promise to pay for it with my money. That was the arrangement, remember? I was sorry to hear about S. in the hospital. Tell him that is what old age will do to you. But I am glad that he is better. Maybe he should hire a governess to watch after the kids. It may sound a little strange for Alexandria, but it would sure save many headaches.
Anyway, I got the O.K. today from my boss to take off from June 4-June 24. Please make your flight reservations as soon as possible so you can get the day you want and a cheaper fare. We are planning on you staying three (3) weeks, so that is how long I can take off from work. We thought that the day you arrive you could sleep and rest and get your bearings. On Friday (June 6) morning we must be in Olst to finish up the plans. We can all have a nice rest on Friday night, because Saturday will be hectic. We will eat a warm lunch on Saturday morning at the S's and then get dressed for the wedding.
The wedding (civil) ceremony at the City Hall in Olst is very much like an American church service. Only Daddy and I don't walk down the aisle. We have asked J's friend J.V. to be a witness, and I want Daddy to be my witness. The ceremony lasts for about 45 minutes with exchanging of the vows, rings, kisses, and witness signing. The gentleman from the City Hall even gives a speech. This will take place at 3:00. As we don't know the Dutch minister, I will ask the American pastor here in the Hague to bless our marriage after the wedding, perhaps in July. It will be a private thing with just the pastor, J., and me. I think this is the best solution.
We will return to the house after the ceremony and get ready for the reception. That will begin around 5:00. We will have a receiving line in the living room, J. and I will cut the cake (not a Dutch tradition), and there will be tea and drinks and tidbits to eat. Around 7:00 that should be over. Mr. S. has suggested that the six of us go to a fancy restaurant afterwards to eat. I will have to think about that since I became sick after eating there in June and in December. I think the food is too rich.
On Sunday, June 8, we can leave on our trip or wait until Monday. J. and I will work out a tentative plan to include Holland, Belgium, France (Paris), Germany, Switzerland, and possibly Austria. We can do that in two weeks, but we don't want to tire you out. If you have preferences, please let us know. We will stay in inexpensive hotels and guest houses since most deluxe hotels are too expensive and not so nice anyway. J. and I can pay for the lodging during the trip, and if you want to help us we can figure it out later and you can deposit it into my bank account in Alex. It is just too hard to guess how much money we will need. You can bring souvenir money and extra money for a special time to eat out. On my tours, I always brought $500 for spending, and I brought half of it back. Everything is expensive here. A normal meal for two costs $25 or more. You can guess we will eat lots of good bread, cheese, and sausages on the road. We will plan on one warm meal a day.
You asked about clothes. Remember that June is still quite cool here. The temperature is usually between 45-65 degrees F and there is much rain. Be sure to bring a raincoat and umbrella (fold-up kind). The raincoat should be an all weather type so it can protect you from the rain and cold. Also, European houses ( not ours) are sometimes chilly in the summer, so bring a sweater that you can wear over your regular clothes. Daddy may even want to bring a pullover or two to wear over his shirts. Sleeveless clothes are too cool. Daddy should bring short sleeve and long sleeve shirts, but he will probably wear the long sleeved ones more because of the coolness.
Mother, ladies don't wear pants in Europe like they still do in America. Only teen-agers wear the jeans and such. So I think you will be more comfortable in easy skirts, blouses, or casual dresses. I only wear pants around the house now. You might want to bring a pair to wear around the pool at J's parents. Also, bring your bathing suits. Perhaps the weather will be warm enough to get wet in the pool since it is heated. You don't have to bring too many clothes since we have a washer and dryer and J's mother does, too.
Shoes are the most important thing. Be sure that you have at least two pair of comfortable walking shoes. J. likes to walk in the cities, so be prepared. You might even want to start getting into shape. The shoes you bring for the wedding will be good for any trips to nice restaurants.
Don't forget your camera and film. Film is too expensive here and not of the best quality even when it is Kodak. Also, you may want to get Traveler's Insurance that will be good for your stay. It is a little expensive, but worth every penny. Don't worry about a hair dryer or electric curlers since I have mine. Also, if you bring anything electric, we have adapters, etc. Bring your money in American Traveler's Cheques since they have offices everywhere. And by all means don't forget your passports. If I think of anything else, I will either call or write.
We think we can mail all of the invitations if we get the names, addresses, and zip codes. If we see that it will be too expensive to mail them from here, we will send a bundle of invitations to you with your list and let you mail them from Alex. But I think it will be possible to mail them from here and more interesting, too. Wouldn't you like to get an invitation to a wedding in Holland? About gifts: I am sure people will ask you what to send. If they send parcels, it will be expensive and we may have to pay a duty fee since it is a gift. We suggest that they send money or checks to you. You can deposit it into my account or buy a Traveler's Cheque and bring it with you. But please keep a record of how much I get from whom so I can write Thank You notes. If people send me personal checks, I have to pay $2.50 for each check I cash. So they should send it to you.
Here are some suggested flight routes:
Houston -Amsterdam (KLM)
N.O. -N.Y. -Amst. (Eastern and KLM)
N.O. -Chicago - Amst. (Northwest and KLM)
Alex. -Atlanta -Brussels (Delta and Sabena)
If you fly on Tuesday, June 3, you will arrive here on Wednesday, June 4. If you fly on Wednesday, June 4, you will arrive here on Thursday, June 5. The fare from Atlanta to Brussels on Sabena Airlines is round-trip $503 APEX. The fare from Alex. to Atlanta is round- trip about $200. We can drive only one and one- half hours to Brussels to pick you up. If you land in Amsterdam, we also have to drive about one hour. So wherever you get the best connections is fine for us.
Later I will send you a list of some small things that I want from the States. Also, I will know by then what I am going to wear. J's mother will wear a pastel blue Alcantara (suede cloth) street length dress, and J's dad will wear a three piece dark blue suit with a white shirt. I know that I told you all this, but it is good to get it in writing.
Well, I'll stop and get ready for lunch. Daddy, thank you for the letter. And I'm glad you found a good job. Tell everyone hello and give the baby and kiddoes a kiss for me.
Call me if you need anything or have a question.