‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’ Shares His Family’s Favorite Dutch Holiday Traditions
Michigan-based veterinarian Dr. Jan Pol stopped by Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family this week.
While the conversation naturally had to do with his Nat Geo Wild hit reality show The Incredible Dr. Pol, the veteran veterinarian also got around to the topic of the holidays and his family’s happiest moments.
The Pols just wrapped up Season 17
Season 17 for The Incredible Dr. Pol is all done, and coincidentally, its season finale festively looked toward the holiday season. In that final episode, Dr. Pol’s help was required from the local reindeer farm.
On Instagram, the show posted the message at that time, “It’s the final episode of the season, and we’re ringing in the Poli-days at the clinic! Maybe it’s just us, but it wouldn’t be the holiday season without #DrBrenda and @rooftoplandingreindeerfarm.”
With the rough Michigan winters, the Pols also noted on social media, “When it comes to the holidays, the clinic might as well be the North Pol!”
The Pols enjoy their holidays the Netherlands way
Appearing on Home & Family last week the veterinarian, born in the Netherlands in 1942, recalled his holiday traditions back home and those that he and his wife, Diane, and their family practice now.
“Well, Christmas was not a big holiday in the Netherlands,” he shared. “It was more ‘go to church and celebrate the birth of Christ.'”
He explained that in his homeland, they celebrated Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas Eve each Dec. 5.
“Sinterklaas still is there and it was called St. Nicholas Day, so we still do that here, of course, because we like to keep that Dutch tradition going,” he said. “Especially now with our granddaughter, Abigail, who’s a little darling, of course.”
The doc went on to say that part of the Dutch Christmas tradition involves their wooden shoes.
“People would put our wooden shoes by the fireplace and the next morning, there would be candy in there or something like that,” he explained. “And if you were a bad boy, you would get some charcoal in there! Diane would write a little poem about how [the children] were. It’s something for the kids, really.
“If you’re in the Netherlands, the funny thing is up to Dec. 5, everything is St. Nicholas. That night, they change all the storefronts and they go right back to the American big Christmas presentation. It’s funny.”
Sometimes the holidays and work are all wrapped up
As Dr. Pol wrote in his memoir, Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a Country Vet, about a special Christmas the family shared that wasn’t as idyllic. For a country veterinarian, the cows don’t know it’s Christmas.
On a Christmas the family never forgot, they were all sitting around waiting for their holiday dinner to be done, when the phone rang. It was a farmer needing help with a cow who was calving and struggling.
Dr. Pol went out to the farm but eventually needed Diane to bring the kids: Charles, 8 years old at the time, and his two daughters who were teenagers. He was going to need a lot of help. He realized the calf was much too big to deliver normally, so he would need all hands on deck.
“I examined the cow; that calf inside her was a big one,” he remembered. “There was no way it was coming out the normal way. The only chance that calf had of surviving was for me to do a C-section. . . But it’s not an easy operation and I needed a lot more help than I had.”
Each of the kids was given a job. Charles and Diane Jr. helped hold on to the uterus, which was extremely big and heavy.
“I carefully cut open the cow’s belly, reached in, and took out that calf,” he said. “It was alive, and once I got it breathing, real curious. The kids were just amazed at this, their eyes couldn’t have been bigger. . .That was the Christmas farm call none of us have ever forgotten.”