Friday, December 30, 2005

christmas time was here


where do I start? Christmas. Ah, Christmas. Christmas here was spectacularly beautiful. Like a movie. On the 24th when the sun went down, we all gathered around the tree (my host mom and dad, Benni the labrador retriever and I) and lit the candles (real candles!). Then we listened to music and appreciated the tree, and sat down to the "Bescherung" (gift-giving) and exchanged small gifts. Then we drank champagne and as my host mom finished preparing dinner I went for a walk with my host dad and Benni through the neighborhood. Boy was that magical. The neighborhood was absolutely still and silent, blanketed in snow, and in all the windows of the tiny houses you could see christmas trees and warm lights and families gathered around eating or exchanging gifts. It was like a scene from the thousands of christmas movies I love--whoville or charlie brown's town, or even the north pole. Magical. Then we returned home to a cozy traditional dinner of wiener wurtschen and kartoeffel salat (viennese sausages and potato salad) and after eating set off for church. Like nearly everyone else in Feldafing, we walked to church, through those silent snowy streets, and my host mom pointed out that we could identify who was going to the catholic church and who was going to the protestant church by which direction they were walking. Not that it was important, it was just one of those quirky little small town facts that made me smile. The church service itself was nice, in a small cozy wooden church, although I was baffled by the fact that people seemed unduly serious and also no one removed their coats--like they wanted to be ready to jump up and leave at any moment. But we sang "Stille Nacht" (silent night) and lit candles, which everyone then walked with back to their houses. I felt somewhere like I was in the middle ages, walking through the snowy streets with candles. And to top off a tradition filled evening, I insisted on reading "twas the night before christmas" aloud, even though christmas eve here really is christmas itself, and there is no santa claus, and i think my host dad, mom and her brother didn't really understand the antiquated english of the poem, despite my wild gesturing and broken translations. It was a calm and beautiful moment, though, and a tribute to my grandfather, who always read it to us. Since he died i've been carrying on the tradition, and when I talked to my family on the 25th, they reported that they'd forgotten to read it. Well grampy, i didn't :)

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