We received email from friends in Germany in the past week. We had been corresponding with an annual letter at Christmas for many years but Marianne finally got us into email. Why did we wait so long?
I dream of Germany when we get to the winter holidays. First the annual company Thanksgiving dinner. There were 70 of us, American and non- Americans with family. The American wives would congregate in the kitchen warming up the 4 or 5 turkeys we had roasted at home and making vats of gravy. We had to wait for the bus from the international school to bring the american children home from school--no holiday in Germany. Then we ate. And boy, did we! My husband held the record for refills--4. He was born on Thanksgiving Day just in time for dinner so he is a natural. There were some traditional dishes that did not translate well to the European taste--pumpkin pie will forever be "baby poop pie".
When Advent begins, I remember and dream of Christmas Markets. I traveled to Vienna, Salzberg, Munich, Rotenburg am Taub, Frankfurt am Main for the markets but evey little town set up booths at Christmas. I remember the lights and most of all the smells. Roasting chestnuts, frying potato pancakes, roasted wursts, lebkucken and of course the smell of pine trees. The booths held decorated cookies, ornaments, angels, nutcrackers--those colorful soldiers whose jaws just happen to crack nuts.
Every year on Christmas eve, the members of a church in our town would march by in the dark holding candles and torches. They would pass the house where we lived and go down the path into the woods. On one of our last Christmas Eves in Germany I announced I was going to follow them to see where they were going. My husband came with me-the children said no. We walked down the path and into the woods finding the group in a circle in a clearing in the woods. They began singing "Silent Night" and tears come to my eyes just typing this. I had learned to sing Silent Night in German in first grade and that is the way I always think of it--in German. And here I was in this clearing and it was so silent and cold with the moon shining down on us. And their voices were so beautiful. It was magic. Christmas magic on Christmas Eve.