This Christmastime has produced some firsts in my life – namely the first time I have decorated a real (ie not artificial) Christmas tree and the first time I have been invited to a traditional German Christmas Eve celebration.
My first time decorating a real actual Christmas tree was in early December when my fellow expat friend E invited me around for tree decorating and hot chocolate.
The second, obviously, occurred on Christmas Eve when I was invited to join my friend L’s eclectic mix of friends to celebrate Christmas. There was a mixture of people I knew and people I didn’t know and the people I didn’t know were a lovely, if not slightly weird, bunch which matched the lovely weirdness of the people I did know. When I arrived the living room door was shut and strict instructions were given that we were not allowed to enter. I soon forgot about the secret in the living room as we were treated to an amazing four course meal and I started wishing that I wore bigger pants. At around 11:30pm, a bell was rang and we were told that we could enter the living room. This is the sight that greeted us.
A beautifully decorated 6 foot Christmas tree featuring real candles. I was simultaneously swept away by how magical it looked and really worried that the place would burn down. Thankfully L had the mandatory bucket of water next to the tree in case of unexpected combustion, but also as a veteran of real candles on real trees, she had positioned the candles perfectly so that there was no risk of the flame coming anywhere near one of the branches. As the night wore on I became less worried about the fire danger and more in love with how magical it was. I now understand why Germans risk burning down their house at Christmas time. Fake candles and fairy lights are no match for the real thing.
After we all oohhhed and ahhhed over the tree L further spoiled us, by giving us Christmas presents. Just look how gorgeous the gift tag was on my present!
I almost felt bad for opening it. Everyone’s present was chosen with care and with expert knowledge of the recipient. But the presents did not stop there. We had all brought a Schrottgeschenk or Secret Santa gift which all went into the middle of room and using a dice and a set of increasingly difficult rules the gifts went from person to person until we all ended up with a gift that wasn’t ours.
Around 1am I headed home on the bus along with a older woman I had just meet that evening, J. We had a conversation I felt the need to record for prosperity just because how totally out of left field it was. The conversation started talking about long haul flights and which airline I use to fly to Sydney
Me: The last couple of times I have flown to Sydney, I have flown Emirates.
J: Aren’t you worried about the terrorists?
Me: (puzzled) Ummm…. no.
J: Well, I expect they wouldn’t shoot one of their own down.
Seriously WTF?? I am starting to wonder if the Germans have their own version of Fox News that I am completely unaware of as this is just crazy talk. She also told me that she would never fly into Heathrow as it was a terrorist hot spot. Righty-oh then.
I also got lost on the way home as I don’t get buses all that much and where I thought I had gotten off wasn’t where I actually had gotten off and it all went a little pear-shaped. Thank god for Google maps. Obviously I need to get the bus more often and stop relying solely on the U-Bahn.
Still Christmas Eve was just wonderful and by far my favourite one since I have moved to Germany. If L will have me over next year, I will totally be there.