Dear Parents and Guardians,
As the holidays are approaching, I enjoy pulling out old cookie recipes; recipes I learned to bake with my mom so many years ago. Listening to Christmas music, the house smelling heavenly, it is the one and only time of the year when I still, even after 32 years, suffer from a pang of homesickness. Christmas was a very special time for me while growing up.
Let me share my memories with you:
At the end of November, cookies would be baked. Lebkuchen need to ‘sit’ for over a month to get soft and chewy. The last 2 weekends prior to the December 24, we would sell Christmas trees. Families would come, walk into the Christmas tree plantation, choose and cut down their own tree. My sister and I would measure the trees and multiply it by 10 or 12 German Marks per meter, depending on whether it was a cheap or a more expensive tree. My sister and I would get $1 for each tree we sold. My mom would sell Glühwein and bake waffles. We’d have oodles of fun, connecting with neighbors we hadn’t seen in a while and fall into bed tired but happy.
We’d go out to cut our own tree down the Saturday prior to December 24. Yup, no tree up for 4-6 weeks! Decorating the tree was the job of my sister and myself. In Germany, you are even allowed real candles on trees. Yes, each year, a couple of houses catch fire. We always had a water bucket close by and it was always someone’s job to ‘watch the candles’.
On December 24, we had to help my mom setting the dining room table with the good china, help in the kitchen and, after a light lunch, it was time to have a nap. Then, off to church we went, barely able to sit still because we couldn’t wait to get home again! When we arrived home, my mom and dad would go into the living room, light the candles, start the Christmas music and… finally open the door to allow us in!
Each year, we had to recite a poem and play on our instrument before we ever opened any presents. We’d always sing Christmas songs as a family, too. Opening presents was also done in a particular fashion: one person would pick up a gift (which couldn’t be your own) and hand it over to the right person. Each year, my parents would give us a book that had a lovely dedication written inside. I still have most of those – despite my rather far moves! We would receive a piece of clothing we needed. Most years, we would receive a third gift, too, which might be a fun one.
This was followed by the most amazing meal of the year: meat fondue accompanied by a curry mandarin almond sauce & remoulade sauce (both home made), pickled veggies and salad.
When we think about what defines our culture, food, music and clothing play a huge part. It is therefore no surprise, that, when I think about Christmas, I remember the smell of baking & candles, the food, the music and the clothing we wore.
Wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful, joyful, playful winter holiday. This is the first Christmas in three years during which we can truly come together in large family groups. It is my hope that you will enjoy the next two weeks.
From my family to yours, I wish you:
Joyeux Noël !
See you all again on January 9, 2023.
Meike Thomsen, Principal/Schulleiterin