Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in Europe in winter

And so this is Christmas -
So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young - John Lennon

The Germans celebrate Christmas on the night of the 24th. After a quiet day chatting with Steph, we wrap the last few gifts and make our way just before 6 pm to her cousin Uli's home. There is much excitement - especially from the nieces and nephews, as they await the visit of the Christ Child with gifts.
All the furniture has been moved to make way for 2 large tables to be joined so we all (14) can share raclette for dinner. For those who have never had this, it is fantastic. There are a number of burners placed on the table with lots of meats and cheeses and accompniaments and garnishes. Each person has a small pan to cook foods under the grill while raw meats and smallgoods are cooked on top of the grill. The closest thing we have ever had is fondue - and yet it is really nothing like it.

After we exchange gifts, we share a fantastic meal with much merriement around the table. The whole family laughs and jokes together and they make sure that we understand all that is being said. The wine flows freely, the food is plentiful and tonight all is right with the world from where we sit.

Back home with very full bellies and to bed.

Christmas morning comes and while it is cool it is not cold enough for snow. We walk down to Steph's (it is only a block) and start to try to phone everyone for Christmas in Australia knowing that it is late afternoon down under as we try. We finally get on to Gen, can only leave a message for Antony and James' phone just rings on and on and on. The two mums are unreachable as the landlines to Australia (or maybe out of Europe) are congested. I am sure they know that we are thinking of them today and we will continue to try to phone them in the coming days.

Today there is more eating drinking and being merry. We go to Mutti's place for lunch at 1:00 pm where today there is 15 people (Felix also joins us today). Mutti, at 88 years of age, can still cook up a veritable feast with some help from her daughter Olga and grand-daughters Anja and Uli. We are served roast duck with spaetzle (noodles), knoedel (bread dumplings), red cabbage and gravy that is balanced with a green field salad. All downed with Trollinger wine (a light red) and bottles of apple juice mixed with mineral water. It is all so delicious and we are gathering deli ideas all the while! (No photos today - we are all too busy eating!)

After lunch, we drive down to have a look at the Muzc family car dealership (Renault only). They are very proud of their business and it shows in many ways - the cleanliness (even of the mechanics bay), the layout and the careful attention to detail. After this we go to Anja and Thomas home for Sparkling wine - ah yes, like in Australia they know better than to call it champagne!

And still they ask if we want some dinner to eat - whew.

So now back to Steph's and the updating of the blog ...

We hope that you all have/had a wonderful Christmas shared with those you love, with enough food so that you are not hungry and a few nice gifts. It has certainly been a very different Christmas here and it was lovely to share the traditions of another family in another time and place.

Give each other a hug and a kiss from us and know that you are all in our thoughts and hearts from the other side of the world. Merry Christmas to one and to all.

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