Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Warm greetings to all!




Dear friends, family and other very nice people around the world !


Another year is about to run out ( and we are not talking about the Maya gimmick J  ). And it is time to  send warm greetings and to reflect a bit about the past 12 months and all the things which have happened.


While doing so we are looking out into our garden, which is almost an exotic zoo.  A huge male pheasant has decided that here is nice, especially when we feed him. Now and then he is looking through our windows to see, if we behave well !  The spotted woodpecker ( actually a big as well as a small one ) and the green woodpecker are also part of the show here. And so are two very energetic squirrels ( a black and a red ).  In addition to that a lot of small birds are all over the place.  And as the “garden commander” we have our neighbours’ great black cat, Myrtille, who is very clever. And who also shows evident ornithological interests J


The pleasure of this nearby nature scene adds to the recent excitement we both felt when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the EU.  It is really remarkable that the very prestigious Nobel Committee ( in a non-EU country ) takes the initiative to make us all think about what the real reason for the creation of the European Union was. And what the fantastic result has been:  changing Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.  We need this reminder in the middle of all the discussions, disagreements and crisis situations, which we see today.  Too often we all forget that the main purpose of the EU has been fulfilled.  I very much agree with EU president Herman van Rompuy when he in his acceptance speech in Oslo said: I’m proud to be a European !  Actually, I wrote an article about it afterwards. I enclose a copy of the English version of my article.  I hope you agree.


This year has also brought us to many lovely places. For holidays and for ( some ) work.  On the vacation side we had lovely winter days in the French beach town Touquet-Paris-Plage in February,  a spring week on the beautiful island of Mallorca in March, a revisit to Bremerhaven in Germany with its impressive Klimahaus and equally exciting German Emigration Museum,  a fantastic 2-week river cruise on the Volga from Astrachan to Moscow in May,  some days in great Fleesensee in the north-east of Germany,  3 months summer holiday in Denmark with “hit-and-run” excursions in many directions all over the country, a new 8-days cruise – this time in the western Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic – together with my two sons Claus and Lasse, and finally a visit to my daughter Cecilie and her little family in Birmingham, England.


You can see photos from it all on this photo site:  


On the work front my communication activities around Europe brought us to Cyprus in May and to Armenia in October. Especially, the visit to Armenia was very interesting. I was invited to speak about Europe and European values on a number of universities in the country.  There was a lot of interest among the students, who by the way were almost all girls. I did not fool myself into believing that it was so, because I was coming J   Armenia is a small country of 2,8 mill. people in the country and about 8 mill. outside ( esp. in Russia, the US, France and Germany ).  The capital Yerevan is very modern and lively. We can strongly recommend a visit.  You can see our photo album from the visit here.


A very special pleasure for us this year was to receive about 30 Belgian friends from Rixensart in our Danish region of Odsherred  ( northwest of Copenhagen ). Most of them had never been to Denmark before.  Luckily the weather gods were behaving very well. It was early August.  We had five excellent days together, where we also learned a lot about our own region. We very much hope that our two municipalities, Rixensart and Odsherred, will decide to be twinned before long.  Decisive forces on both sides work for it to happen !


We also had a good time when we organized a dinner with Old Colleagues and great friends from the EU Commission. About 20 of us came from all over Europe, and everybody enjoyed meeting each other again. It was unanimously decided to meet soon again.



As far as our other activities are concerned I continue to work actively on my family history. I have more than 3.600 people in my data base. And recently I started working with the programme   This is fantastic. It brings you almost automatically precious information from many public archives and from other genealogists, who happen to have information about the same people.  I also had the pleasure to be found by my American grand cousin ( the daughter of my deceased cousin in Minnesota ).  I had been looking for her for ages, but with no success.  Now she found me via my English home page.  And she lives and works in London, so she already came over with Eurostar. And we had a great time.


My three kids are all well and kicking.  My oldest Claus lives and works in Odense, Denmark ( also Hans Christian Andersen’s home town ).  He is a historian and looking after the city’s history.  Lasse is also a historian. He lives and works since five years in Brussels and is part of the Danish Permanent Representation and Embassy here. And Cecilie with her family lives and works in Birmingham, UK – as a researcher in the School of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Birmingham. Her husband Nikos was appointed professor at the same School in the autumn.  And their two great daughters – Anna Maria ( soon 7 ) and Zoe ( soon  2 ½ ) are keeping them on their toes J   They are, of course, everybody’s darlings. Should you be in doubt you can have a look at my short YouTube proof from November here.



It had been sad to see several good friends die during the past year. Our great memories of each of them nobody can take away. And their death has once again reminded us that we have to remember to live and live well, as long as we can.  Nobody will thank us for not doing it. Some day it’s too late. In my genealogy work I also often consult tombstones. You can do so today on the Internet for most Danish cemeteries.  Sometime you see interesting messages from the deceased person. One I saw said:  So that was it !   Another one said it differently:  So here I lie now.  Very much against my will !   


With this in mind we are, of course, planning a new year 2013 with many highlights. One of the first will be a transatlantic cruise from Martinique to Italy in February-March. Another plan is a visit to Barcelona early June.  And perhaps a longer visit to China later in the year. And probably a cruise in the Baltic Sea in September.


This year we have been happy to see many friends and family here in Rixensart as well as in Denmark. We look forward to seeing them and many more in the new year.  You don’t have to be rich – as long as you are rich in good friends !   So we feel very rich and lucky.


Now Christmas is upon us.  With all its traditions and good fun.  Traditions which often are different from country to country.  This is part of the great multi-cultural Europe of ours.  With the help of good friends all over Europe I have made a collection of descriptions of all these Christmas traditions from most countries and regions in Europe.  I think this is interesting reading.   You can find them all on my home page here.    If you want them in another form, please let me know.


We wish you and your loved ones a very nice and warm Christmas and also an exciting and successful New Year 2013 !


Warm greetings from Rixensart,




















35, Avenue de l’Europe, B-1330 Rixensart, Belgium


Tel. 00322 652 0812  Mobile:  0032 47 47 47 040

E-mail:    Skype: kimbrer