A very special Day

Christmas is coming up, for us – in Germany – a little earlier than for most people in the world because we celebrate on December 24.

When you think about your Christmas growing up, what do you remember the most? The memories that seem to last the longest for most of us are those great family Christmas traditions. We had quite a few of them.

We made or bought one keepsake ornament each year to add to the collection and decorated the tree on Dec 23. All of the Advent season and on Dec 24 a wild mix of Christmas music got us in the groove – gospels, jazz and traditional Bavarian music. Unconventional, yes. But it was ours and I loved it.

My parents, my brother and I (plus up to 8 hunting dogs) would start the day with a hearty breakfast before heading out with my Dad. Mom stayed at home, enjoying blissful silence and some quiet time. We would visit our hunting ground, leaving goodies out for roe deer, ducks, rabbits and the like. In my memory it was always cold with a blanket of soft snow. I am sure, that’s not true but I like to remember it that way.

We would warm up in our hunting cabin in the woods where we had a wood-burning oven. It was always soooo cold in the beginning but heavenly cozy once the fire crackled, heating up some (watered down) mulled wine and a stew. I always fell asleep after lunch. Like, every single time!

On our way home, we always stopped at both sets of grandparents where my brother and I had to sing Christmas songs. I couldn’t sing (still can’t) but I sure gave it my all. Having a handful of home baked cookies in the bath tub was also a tradition (don’t ask me where that came from!). We always got new and festive clothes for Christmas and I loved, loved, loved putting them on after may bath. It felt so special. In the late afternoon my brother and I went to church before it was time for dinner.

There are many German traditions regarding food, but we always had sausages and potato salad. My brother and I had to go to the playroom and wait for the Christmas Angel to ring a little bell (no Santa, Father Christmas and the like. We have the “Christkind”). All day there was this massive build up for finally getting our fingers on the presents. But not quite yet. Another round of singing (dare you not knowing your lyrics!). Hallelujah! We took turns opening our presents, drank home made punch, and ate even more cookies. My parents always attended midnight mass and my brother and I visited our neighbors, a family of 8, with whom we were best friends. Always a perfect ending to a very special day.


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