Keeping the Magic (Part Deux)

Every morning for the last several, I’ve listened for the rain before I opened my eyes. The sound is still there, day after day. Someone, somewhere in Germany must be building an Ark.

But this past weekend, I was determined to make it festive no matter what the weather. Gary was in the midst of an India-Singapore business trip but I had the weekend nicely packed with activities: Our village Christmas market one day and a backwoods Christmas tree-cutting party the next. I love Christmas here in Germany and couldn’t wait to get started.

On Saturday, we mucked our way down into the village and made our way along the rather lonely wooden vendor booths. The rain was relentless but Jack still wanted to ride on the carousel. He was the only one on there and Nora and I had to stand a few feet away so we weren’t splashed by the turning wheel on top. Somehow we made a couple hours of it at the market and slopped our way home.

That night I attended a beautiful good-bye dinner for my friend Donna and her husband Wes who are returning to Australia. It was a great evening but since I will miss my friend dearly and the rain still didn’t cease, a little melancholy set in by the time I went to bed.

The next morning, I woke up to the sound of rain but I was set on making it a good day. A recruiting company that Gary uses here in Frankfurt was hosting a Christmas party in the woods. Now that may sound awful but, from experience, I know that if Germans are going to host a party in the woods, it’s going to be good.

We were going to be in a higher altitude so I packed all the cold and wet weather gear I could find and the three of us took off. And, I drove and drove, higher and higher until we reached a tiny, ancient half-timber village. I parked the car and someone pointed us in the right direction. So, we walked and walked up the mountain (old mountains like Virginia and West Virginia) and it rained and rained. Then it started raining sideways and I had to move the umbrella to brace against it. In my head I was chanting, why oh why do I do these things? I hate breaking a commitment and I know that Germans take it even more to heart. So we trudged on, at least 2 kilometers. Then, finally, an oasis. Someone was belting out “Tequila Sunrise” from a karaoke machine and we entered a paradise in the forest.

An Old World Santa strolled the grounds with a sack full of goodies in one hand and a rute in the other. The rute is a small branch from a tree or bush and is used on the naughty ones. This is Germany, after all. Fortunately, this Santa was all good cheer. Unfortunately it was expected that we were all supposed to saw down our own Christmas tree. But the Polish gentlemen bundling the trees took pity on me and sawed ours down. After bratwursts, gluewein (for me), and lots of cookies, we roasted bread over an open fire. It was basically a croissant on a stick and really good. And, the Karaoke rolled on.

As we started walking down the road back to the car, a fog rolled in and it started getting dark. No one else was around and, by the way, it was still raining. A few minutes into our trek, the world’s oldest VW Golf pulled up beside us. It was the Polish guys who helped with our tree (which was waiting at the bottom of the hill/mountain). We piled in the car and shortly later picked up another guest making his way down. Then we got really lost, taking a wrong turn or two. I hope they don’t regret picking us up!!

When we finally reached our cars, the other hitchhiker helped me stuff our tree into the car. In his seat, Jack was overcome by the tree but I put a blanket on him and plied him with some chocolate. On the drive home, Nora declared this “the best weekend ever” and I nearly drove off the road in shock. I’m glad to have made the effort and, finally today, it stopped raining and started snowing. Then the sun came out.

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