in which Christmas comes in the form of snow, Christmas shopping, and yes, more Christmas Markets.
I now report live from Northern Germany, a good 5-6 hours north of where I live. I am here visiting a friend in Lübeck, an old Hanseatic city once home to J.S. Bach in his church organist days. My 15 hour stint back in Bavaria went without any commentary necessary. School was school. Theoretically I was supposed to work on the 23rd, too, but given that it was Christmas-Eve-Eve, that I would only work two hours, and that I had 6 hours to spend on trains to come North, I announced my inability to come to work on the 23rd, and caught a noon train to Lübeck, where I am now.
I left a Nuremberg fully decked out for Christmas. The snow that fell over the weekend left the city looking much more Christmas-y than previously, as demonstrated below.
Up north, everything is going along swimmingly (except for plans for New Year’s (as in: total lack thereof), but that’s another story). The moment I arrived, I was promptly plopped down at the table with a grechka (a buckwheat porridge, called kasha by American Jews) dinner and three shots of vodka. Ahh, Christmas with the Germans/Russians (ethnically German, emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1990–the very group of people I wrote my thesis on)! Julia, my Russian/German friend, and her parents, Olga and Andreas, are wonderful hosts, and it was wonderful to catch up with them (I have been here once before–almost 18 months ago, under the auspices of doing thesis research). After dinner, we dropped in on Julia’s aunt and uncle, who live around the corner, where tea, chocolate, and… cognac (!) was awaiting us. Also nice to see them again.
My first day here was devoted to Christmas shopping and my final German Christmas market.We met Julia’s cousin and her cousin’s cousin downtown, where we alternated gift shopping with Glühwein and hot chocolate. I managed some gifts for Julia’s family, and we enjoyed each other’s company. The Lübeck Christmas market was particularly nice, and had a very different feel from those I have seen in Bavaria (and Thüringen).
We then returned home, where we finished up the grechka for dinner. Sans vodka this time.
Then, it was time to schmuck the tree, which Julia’s father had put up while we were out. We hung the lights, strung the garlands, put on the topper, and hung a collection of red, white, and blue ornaments, which left me feeling patriotic (or Russian). We finished up with a bit of мишура and дождь (different forms of tinsel).
And then, it was time for shenanigans, which involved posing à la russe. Which mostly involves posting with plants and not smiling, a generally misguided attempt to look sexy (I love Russians!).
Then, as Julia worked on her gift packaging, I made delicious chocolate cookies to offer at the family Christmas gathering later today. Delicious.
And now, Christmas is upon us. The tree is up and decorated, the presents wrapped, the baking done. Julia and I went to a church service at the Lübeck Cathedral, and now, all is read for the family gathering/party.
I am sure this will be my first Christmas that involves alcohol other than a bit of red wine at dinner. And I am sure I will be proudly introduced as “nasha amerikanka” (our American) countless times. And it will be wonderful.
And now, it is time to be off. So, to all my readers, a very merry Christmas!