Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011


As a young child, I always looked forward to Christmas with great anticipation and excitement. The presents beautifully wrapped and sitting under the tree, glittering with lights. My mother almost always wrapped the presents on Christmas Eve.  It is sort of tradition, but one I like.  The presents beautifully wrapped and sitting under the tree would always taunt my brothers and I.  Every year, my brother shakes the presents under the tree that are addressed to him, and every year he manages to guess at least one (usually more) correctly, much to my mother's chagrin.  It is, however much my mother detests it, a family tradion.  One that I always know will be there.  One that makes me smile when I think about it.

The other thing that I always look forward to is seeing my extended family.  Something that can be described as both chaotic and simultaneously wonderful.  When we all gather, we are 18 by blood and marriage (plus 1 finance, plus 3 girlfriends, plus friends). The more the merrier.  I love it.

Perhaps we have other traditions, but none that hold so strongly in my mind. I was recently on the phone with my mother and asked what was for dinner on Christmas this year, to which she replied, "Turkey. Dressing.  What else would we have?"  I seemed to have forgotten this tradition.  I seem to remember having Honeybaked Ham, but perhaps that was Thanksgiving.  I don't know. Whole turkeys kind of gross me out so perhaps I am just blocking that image out of my mind? Moving on.....

Now that David and I live a 10 hour plane ride away from my family, Christmas is very different, but at the same time very much the same. The only year we ever decorated for Christmas was the first year of our marriage.  We put up a tiny two foot tree with a strand of garage sale lights.  I only hung one ornament that year, one that was given to me by my sister-in-law. The rest of my ornaments we still stored at my parent's home at the time.  For the last three years we have not bothered with a tree. It is too much to deal with and we are not home to enjoy it. The are no wrapped presents.  We don't even exchange gifts with each other for Christmas.

We have fallen into a bit of a routine. A routine that is hopefully satisfiying to our families, albeit tiring for us. 

On the 22nd we always have the office holiday party.  This party is a bit of a legend. It goes from 4 pm until 4 am.  Everyone then takes a nap, returns to work to clean up and polish off the leftovers, and then heads to the Christmas market for one last round of gluhwein.  This means that the 23rd is usually spent recovering from said party and last minute Christmas shopping.

On the 24th, we clean the house and pack our suitcases before heading to David's parent's house for our German celebration.  The 24th is the usual day for Christmas celebrations in Germany.We attend the children's christmas service. (Traditionally, David's family always went to chruch at 11 pm, but I do not travel with out a full night's sleep the night before. Therefore, his family has graciously altered their traditions slightly.) While we are over there, we decorate the tree with ornaments and candles. No electric lights here. We feast on leek quiche. Snack on german christmas cookie from David's aunt.  Drink tea, chat.  We sing songs. By we, I do not mean David. He watches.  ;) We then open gifts, usually small things. Nothing extravagant.  Just simple, samll, thoughtful.  We then head to the kitchen to enjoy a lovely dessert before heading home and crashing, usually sometime around midnight or 1 am.

On the 25th we wake up insanely early (even for this morning person) to head to the airport.  Once we check in, we relax. We grab a coffee and enjoy just being us two, our own family.  We spend the next 10 hours relaxing, sleeping, reading, movie watching.  I don't mind flying. When David is with me, i really don't mind it.  It is our time.  Our tradition.  We arrive in the USA mid afternoon, wait in long lines at immigration, before heading out to the unnaturally clear highways.  Once we arrive at home we are greeted by the dog.  By greeted, I mean jumped on. She nearly explodes at the sight of David. We wrap our gift brought from Germany and place them under the tree. We then enjoy dinner followed by opening gifts.  My family now has the new normal of opening gifts on Christmas night instead of the morning.  We then fall into bed by 10 pm, ready for some rest.

Today, our 2011 Christmas celebrations begin.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's raining because you didn't finish your plate and other musings from start of my 28th year

It's raining because you didn't finish your plate.

Do we say this in the states?  I have never heard this saying until recently.

According to David this downpour we are currently experiencing is somehow my fault because he always finishes my food.

I would however like to point out that I did finish this plate of food.

And I helped with this one, too.

That would be my birthday lunch at my favorite little hippie cafe.  Did I mention my birthday was 2 weeks ago?  Yeah,  I turned 27.  Wow, I feel old.  Except not. Working at a university makes me feel like a am back in college again, except there are no exams or homework. Just long days. Especially since I am younger than almost all of my colleagues. :) Got to love that we finish high school at 18 and college at 22 (unless you are me and finish at 23), unlike the Germans who finish high school at 19 (it used to be 20) and finish college in their late 20s depending on the degree.

Did I mention that I am a Nikolas Kind? Yep, the German Santa comes to visit the Deutsche Kinder on my birthday.  This means that many stores you go to, give out chocolate on my birthday (how thoughtful of them).
My "birthday gift" from the grocery store.

I even got a card in the mail for my birthday from my Aunt who thinks I am still 26 (I'll take it ;) )

This card made me laugh.  I love Dr. Seuss.

 Here's to my 28th year and many more.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it RAIN?

For the last 2 weeks or so it has rained nearly every day. Normally, I would not mind this so much except for the fact that I commute to work with a bike, meaning I show up to work soaking wet from the knees down.

It is hard to tell in this photo, but my boots are soaked through to my socks.
This morning we had our first "snow" of the year.  I would like to emphasize that it was a "snow" because there was now accumulation except on roofs and bridges. I am ready for a little snow.  It doesn't really feel like Christmas time here in Germany until we see a little snow. I need a little pick me up to get me through this last week of work. T minus 6 days, or something like that?

Our weather forcast for the next 10 days.

It doesn't look like this rain is going to end until AFTER we leave.  Go figure.

This year I am SO ready for Christmas.  I am ready to be home, surrounded by family and American food (no offense to German food, it just doesn't say Christmas to me).  I an cannot wait to(in no particular order):

- see my family
- drink holiday lattes at Starbucks, while visting with old friends.
- go shopping with my mom and then have a yummy girl's lunch while we are out.
- see my extended family.
- meet the newest furry addition to our family
- go to a church service in English
- sleep in
- do hot yoga
- see my parent's house renovation
- Speak English all the time.  My head is hurting. :)

I am ready.  Christmas could you get here? 

Thursday, December 15, 2011


One of the most celebrated Christmas traditions in Germany is the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market). In every little town you can find some sort of Christmasmarket, be it big or small. Some markets are even themed, such as the midevil themed one in the area where my husband grew up. At all of the markets, one finds crafts (both traditional and modern)  as  well as delcious food such as Glühwein, Crepes, Baumkuchen, roasted chesnuts, to name a few.

In Karlsruhe,  our Weihnachtsmarkt begins every year on Thanksgiving day and lasts until Christmas Eve.  Despite it's lack of "Stimmung" (atmosphere), every year during the Christmas season I find myself visiting the Weihnachtsmarkt on multiple occasions, be it to have a cup of glühwein with a friend or to shop for gifts for friends and family in the states.

On Tuesday evening, I met up  i met up with a  German friend of mine at the Karlsruhe Christmas market. Although it rained (the preffered weather for a Weihnachtsmarkts is lightly falling snow), we still had a lovely time shopping, eating, and sipping Glühwein.  We wander throught the stalls of crafts looking at everything from Christmas decorations to silicon baking forms. She also introduced me to several new culinary delights that i would like to share with you.

The first is Laiberl.  Laiberl is an light dough that is back in the oven and covered in topping, it is sort of like a pizza, except that the crust is much lighter.  This is the vegetarian version with garlic, sliced veggies, and beets.  It was so yummy. My friend had the more traditional version with Speck und Käse (bacon and cheese).

The next thing  she introduced me to, was Wießglühwein or glühwein(hot wine with spices) made using white wine.  Traditionally, glühwein is made using red wine.  However, I highly recommend the white version if you are looking to try something new.  The only way I can describe the taste is to say that it is a touch lighter and sweeter than its red cousin.

*Sorry for the sideways picture, I cannot seem to rotate it.

I would love to show you all photos of some of the craft stands I looked at, but I fear that I might spoil your Christmas gifts for some of my readers back home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where has the time gone?

To my loyal blog readers:

Sorry to blog so little for the last 2 weeks.  I promise I will be back shortly.  I blame it on a busy lunchtime schedule (I normally blog on my lunch break). I'll be back tomorrow or Friday with a few fun updates.

Til then I leave you with a cup of gluhwein, which I enjoyed at Christmasmarket on day during lunch...instead of blogging.  :)   Forgive me?

I'm off to enjoy some lentil soup at the mensa. It is the only thing worth eating at the mensa. :)