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Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Christmas Story Part 4


In the past seven years (which is how long I've been celebrating the holidays in Germany), I can't really say that I've ever experienced an "authentic German Christmas". My overwhelming German Christmas tradition has consisted of eating tacos until I burst (with Schmiddy and Wonfuzius) and drinking beer and watching The Life of Brian. One time, I had a delicious turkey dinner around Christmastime. And last year, we ate fondue with the Rosenthals in Bochum.

In Germany, the main Christmas celebration takes place on December 24th. Typically, there's a good deal of food consumed. And at some point during the day -- if children are involved -- they are distracted so that either the "Christmas Guy" (Der Weihnachtsmann aka Santa Claus) or the Baby Jesus (Das Christkind) can sneak into the house to bring the gifts. This was kind of a Baby Jesus household, so the morning and afternoon were spent distracting two little girls from getting into the living room.

In Frosty's family, they have a tradition of wrapping presents in old newspaper and sometimes the article and/or picture on the paper wrapped around gift either corresponds to some feature about the present or the present's recipient.

Then, after the Baby Jesus drops off all the presents, the family gathers in the living room and before anything is unwrapped... Christmas carols are sung. Each person gets to pick a song from the songbook and everyone sings it together a cappella. Fortunately, all those years of high school German and my teacher's tradition of giving extra credit in the winter for memorizing German Christmas carols have finally paid off! I don't know them all, but I feel like I know the really important ones...

Frosty's aunt (his uncle's wife) is from Venezuela. In fact, during the first family breakfast on the 24th, Frosty's grandma was basically like, "Raven, when Frosty told me that you also had dark brown skin, I told his aunt and she was really excited to have you here as company!" I was sitting next to his aunt at the time and we both kind of looked at each other kind of surprised (mostly because the words "dark brown" were used and really, it's winter and I'm kind of at my palest) but anyway, we kind of chuckled -- then an awkward pause in the conversation around the dinner table.

The family is kind of multi-cultural I guess. His aunt and uncle raise their two little girls bilingually (Spanish & German) and then I was there I guess this mean we had to sing Silent Night in Spanish (which we did) and then they wanted me to sing a Christmas carol in English (which I didn't).

The kids got to open their presents and were sent to bed afterwards. The grown-ups ate fondue, then some went to mass. Frosty, C. Dub and I stayed behind to play Boggle, where the following conversation went down after the timer ended:

Frosty: I have "aids"
Me: I have "aids" too.
C. Dub: I don't have "aids" ... unfortunately

Cue uproarious laughter. Boggle is now our new favorite game. I even got my own set as a gift, as well as a few books.

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