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Gedenkplaat for René De Seranno

Belgian Comedy Wins International Emmy

Holy Blood Procession during WWI




VOL. 101 NO. 12 11 DECEMBER 2014

“The Belgian Connection”

Jos en Roos Slaets

ZIE BLZ. 10 Under the Patronage of His Majesty Philippe, King of the Belgians

Queen Fabiola Dies at 86


he Belgian Monarchy reported with very great sadness the death of Her Majesty Queen Fabiola on Friday, December 5th, in the Castle Stuyvenberg of Brussels at the age of 86. She last appeared in public on July 31, 2013, at a remembrance Mass held for her late husband King Baudouin. Fabiola had been in poor health for some time, having breathing problems and needing the use a wheelchair to get around. “She had been very weak since 2009, after contracting pneumonia,” explained Rafike Yilmaz, spokeswoman for the Royal Palace. Doña Fabiola, Fernanda, Maria de las Victorias, Antonia, Adelaïda de Mora y Aragón, was born in Madrid, Spain, on June 11, 1928. From a family of seven children, she was the third daughter of a Spanish count. On December 15, 1960, she married King Baudouin of Belgium, making her Belgium’s fifth queen at the age of 32. The couple however remained childless. Upon the death of King Baudouin in 1993, his King Baudouin I and Queen Fabiola of Belgium during a brother, Albert, ascended to the throne. Fa- visit to the white House in washington, D.C. in 1969. biola retained the title of Queen. Queen Fabiola was socially and culturalat the wish of the King in 1976 to mark the 25th ly engaged with her adopted country and after the anniversary of his reign. The foundation aims to death of Queen Elisabeth, widow of King Albert improve the living conditions of the population. I, in 1965, she took under her High Protection The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel the charity which organizes the Queen Elisabeth said, “Belgium loses a queen who gave our counof Belgium International Music Competition, of try an international reputation.” He also praised which she was Honorary President. her for her social and cultural engagements. Mr. In September 1993, she accepted the PresidenMichel added, “We will remember her as a grande cy of the King Baudouin Foundation, established dame who has her place in Belgium’s history.”

100th Anniversary

Gazette van Detroit Celebrations in Belgium Story on page 12

Bart Ouvry

Discusses the Council of Europe Story on page 15

Hélène Toye

Talks about American Motherhood Story on page 16

Christmas Truce Letter Found A letter written by an English general has been found which details how the famous WWI Christmas truce came about. The letter written by General Walter Congreve VC to his wife had been given to the Staffordshire County Council in England in the 1960’s and was just recently unearthed among hundreds of other documents this year. The Christmas Truce of WWI became legend but historians say letters describing the event are few. General Congreve describes the ceasefire as “an extraordinary state of affairs.” Gen Congreve, who led the Rifles Brigade and was positioned at British Headquarters near Neuve Chapelle, says it was the Germans who initiated the suspension in hostilities, “this a.m. a German shouted out that they wanted a day’s truce and would one come out if he did. Very cautiously one of our men lifted himself above the parapet and saw a German doing the same. Both got out, then more... they have been walking about together all day giving each other cigars and singing songs. Officers as well as men were out and the German Colonel himself was talking to one of our captains.” However, the general said he himself had not joined the truce in case the Germans could not resist taking a shot at such a highranking officer. “I was invited to go and see the Germans myself but refrained as I thought they might not be able to resist a general.” He also writes he has heard of battalions “further north” playing football - a reference to the famous WWI football match. “To have such a detailed account Editor’s Notebook . . . . . . . . . . 2 from a high ranking officer, written on In Flanders Fields . . . . . . . . . . 3 the actual day, is a real gem,” said Ben From the Chairman . . . . . . . . 4 Adams, the councilor responsible for Digital Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 archives. “The fact the letter has come Sprokkels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 to light in the year we commemorate 100 Jaar Gazette . . . . . . . . . . . 6 the centenary of the Great War makes On the Gazette Trail. . . . . . . . 7 its existence even more special.”



Club News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

In Memoriam Luc De Vos

Cheery Chatter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

November 29, 2014, was a dark day for Belgian music and literature. We lost one of our most talented, witty, eloquent, down-to-earth and kindhearted artists. Luc De Vos, best known as lead singer of Flemish rock band Gorki, passed away at the age of 52. Many people, amongst them a lot of fellow

Food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

BELGIAN NEWS continued on page 9

Son of War & Peace . . . . . 23

Belgian News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Nog altijd even rijk . . . . . . 10 Book News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Paula’s Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 My Glass is Fuller Here. . . 16 In Touch with Legacy . . . 17 In Memoriam



GSFA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Puzzles



Brush up your Flemish . . . 21 Holy Blood Procession. . 22 Season’s Greetings . . . . . . 24

PERIODICAL POST MAIL Paid Roseville, Michigan

Onder de Hoge Bescherming van Zijne Majesteit Koning Filip van België



My Glass is Definitely Fuller Here


faced with a setback, they élène Toye (42) is will reflect on it for a short married to Demetrewhile, before finding a creus, the love of her ative solution and going for life and father of her two it! Naggers are not liked very children: Eloise (16) and much around here. In BelThibaut (8.5). Hélène grew gium, nagging is part of our up in Boechout, and lived in culture and I myself used to the countryside of Vlaamsbe quite the complainer. My Brabant before her family Leentje glass used to always be halfmoved to the United States. De Leeuw empty. Not that my glasses Last year they bought a Correspondent are always full here, but they house in Bethesda, Marydefinitely are fuller than they land, after spending several used to be. The optimism is simply conyears in Washington, D.C. tagious!” “At the end of 2008, my husband proudly announced he’d been asked to move to the US to start up an American branch for his Belgian employer. My first reaction was one of stubborn refusal. Never would I move to America! I loved my life in Belgium and would not quit my job, nor drag my children across the ocean. However, a few months later, I found myself and my two children boarding a plane to join my husband in Washington, D.C.”

the house warm as well as the sustainability of the construction itself. Several times a year, the huge yards around those houses feature a multitude of tiny plastic flags. I have come to understand that those little flags warn dog walkers and parents of young children that the lawn has been treated with pesticides, which could be harmful for the small inhabitants of planet earth. That is just plain shocking to me!”

Belgian vs. American motherhood

photo courtesy of H. Toye

Hélène’s book, Go West – A Belgian Attempts American Motherhood, is very popular amongst Belgian and other European expats in the US. “While the title of my book refers to the differences between Belgian and American motherhood, I do not proclaim to hold the truth about those differences. I wanted my book to be ‘light literature’ and devoid of any ‘morals’. The result is a collection of funny stories that happened due to our European approach to American life. Most Europeans think How do you like Bethesthey know the Americans – I da, Maryland? did too – but it really takes liv“We lived a few years in the ing in the USA to realize that American capital, before movyou don’t know about half of ing to the suburbs. Last year we their customs. Most of the anbought a house here, so I guess ecdotes in my book are set in we’re here now for the long an upscale, all-white, Washingrun! I love the luscious nature ton D.C. neighborhood, where in Bethesda. It’s very green, appearances and social class even though only 20 minutes are very important. ‘Desperfrom a major city. But it’s the ate Housewives’ and ‘Keepinternational appeal of the ing up with the Joneses’ often town that speaks to me most. came to mind. But, I never deBoth my children attend pubclared that my book compares lic schools and are surrounded all American moms to all Belby kids from all nationalities. gians. Even so, I have gotten Our best friends are Belgian, Hélène Toye with her husband, Demetreus, and children, feedback from European exFrench, Indian, Chilean, Croa- Eloise and Thibault. pats around the US, who read tian, Dutch, Greek, and Amerimy book and recognized themselves in can… It is very refreshing and enriching Lack of eco consciousness many of the situations. So I guess there to be surrounded by all those different “What I don’t like about many Ameriis a general European versus American cultures!” cans is the lack of respect for nature and approach to parenting.” environment. In our area, older houses are replaced by ‘McMansions’; estates And how about the Americans? with over 5 bedrooms, formal sitting “I really appreciate the American posi“Every child is special” and dining rooms that are hardly ever tivity and kindness, perceptible in every “In DC, when moms get together with used, a dazzling number of bathrooms... aspect of life. When you enter a store, their children, conversation is focused The basic wooden structure is isolated staff will help you locate what you are on the children. I really had a hard time with a plastic sheet on top of which a looking for. When you ride the elevaunderstanding that in the beginning. I thin siding is applied. It makes one wontor, people will talk to you and inquire would ask mothers I had just met about der about the energy required to keep about your day. When Americans are their professional background or their

Hélène’s book, Go West – A Belgian Attempts American Motherhood, is available on Amazon. After her move across the Atlantic, Hélène Toye tries to adapt to an American way of life and to her new role as a full-time mom. Time after time, she – or her children – commit faux pas, which put them in awkward situations. As ex-pats everywhere know, speaking the language of the natives doesn’t mean you will understand each other. This collection of stories is bound to make you smile as you watch Hélène try to master American rituals like the Parent Coffee and the Neighborhood Listserv. Read more stories on Hélène’s blog https://helenetoye.

interests, only to be met with frowns, the conversation being redirected to children’s topics. Which children books were we into as a family? Did my child ‘go potty’ yet? How did I deal with tantrums? Children constantly interrupt adult conversation. And that is generally accepted. Also Americans often overrate their children’s qualities. When I said one day my daughter was just average at math, her teacher replied, ‘Never say your child is average. Every child is special!’ While my daughter excels at many other things, her mathematical skills really are … average. Parents around me usually thought their children were angels. Once I saw a kid repeatedly pounding my son’s head. HéLéNE TOYE continued on page 22



The Procession of the Holy Blood Puzzle Solutions

By Lee Desender and Amy Pablo


HéLéNE TOYE continued from page 16

Whereas I don’t usually intervene, this really called for my help. So I walked up to the kid - some 5 years older than mine - and asked him why he was doing that. Before he could reply, his mom was standing next to me, asking if I had an issue with her son. I told her what had just happened. ‘No, I didn’t kick him!’ her son said. ‘I only accidentally hit him!’ To which his mother replied, ‘Looks like you have the facts wrong. I guess both kids were in the wrong. Your son was probably annoying mine. Let’s just have them both apologize.’ And that was that!”

Full time moms “Mothering in the Washington D.C. area is a full time activity for many moms. And we are talking about highlyschooled women giving up their job to take care of the children. They compen-

Translation Crossword

Above: The children of Bruges take part in the Procession of the Holy Blood on May 5, 1918, during WWI. Right: Knights marching in the Procession of the Holy Blood.

front of their warlords celebrating the Procession of the Holy Blood. In 2009, the Procession of the Holy Blood was added to the UNESCO representative list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Inscription of the procession on the representative list strengthens the community’s link to its history and its future, raising awareness

sate for their loss of professional activity by getting (overly) involved in their children’s activities and in the PTA (‘oudercomité’). Their children are enrolled in several enrichment classes (Chinese is very popular nowadays, but also math tutoring, Kumon classes, music classes, chess...) and need to excel in some sport. That’s a lot of pressure, not only on the child, but also on the mom. She’s the one who needs to drive the kids around to all those activities, make sure homework is done for all those different classes and that the child looks picture perfect for school. On top of that her house always has to look like a spread in a Pottery Barn catalog. Just observing those moms is stressful. I chose not to take part in it. My children only do the after-school activities they want and my house is often messy; shoes lying around near the entrance and books scattered on the coffee table.”

photo © Bruges Tourist Office

he Procession of the Holy Blood has taken place annually on Ascension Day since the year 1303. The relic of the Holy Blood was brought to Bruges by Thierry D’Alsace, Count of Flanders in 1149. It was presumably given to him by the Patriarch of Jerusalem in recognition of his contribution to the First Crusade in the Holy Land. Except for being kept in hiding during the two World Wars, the relic of the Holy Blood of Jesus Christ had never left Bruges, and is still kept in the Basilica of St. Basil in the Burg Square. There are two parts to the mile-long procession: the first by tableaux and floats enacting scenes from the Bible through the coming of Christ and His Resurrection. The second part depicts the return of the Count of Flanders to Bruges. During WW1, the citizens of Belgium fought a tenacious, bloody and unending battle against the most formidable army in the world, and to the world, the word “Belgian” became a synonym for courage. Even the children were emboldened to take action. For on May 5, 1918, the citizens of Bruges witnessed a power greater than any occupying foe. The military authorities had “verboden” all celebrations and processions, but on that day, the children of Bruges bravely marched in


of the importance of intangible cultural heritage as an expression of human creativity and cultural diversity.

Will Hélène’s family always stay in the US? “I have learned not to make long-term plans. However, I promised my daughter she would be able to finish high school in her current school. That means we’re here for at least three more years. By that time, our son will be ready to start middle school. In this neighborhood? Time will tell! My husband and I don’t see ourselves growing old in the US, but then again, if our children decide to stay here and start families, we might change our minds. On the other hand, I don’t feel like moving back to Belgium. Not that I don’t like my native country. I love it. But having left the gloomy winters behind, I don’t think I’d ever be able to adjust to those again. The south of Europe sounds nice. Who knows, maybe one day …?” – Leentje De Leeuw


Crypt-O-Quote Solution Take time; make time; there may not be another time. –Janet Powers

Profile for From Chicago with Words

Gazette van Detroit: Hélène Toye  

Interview with Hélène Toye for Gazette van Detroit

Gazette van Detroit: Hélène Toye  

Interview with Hélène Toye for Gazette van Detroit