Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Highs and Lows

This was a busy, but not hectic, month. We did a lot, cooked a lot of delicious meals, (my daughter and I) took a few trips, and experienced the joy of the Christmas season. Germans really know how to do Advent and Christmas. I feel like Christmas in the U.S. is about sales, shopping, rushing around, and stress. The rushing around and stress were partly due to the fact that I was working full-time as well, of course. I haven't had any rushing or stress related to the holiday, and M has been able to stay out of the office for several days!

It's New Year's Eve now, and we're about to start preparations for our Raclette dinner. After that we'll watch "Dinner for One" and have our Bescherung (gift exchange) with my Schwiegermutter. Christmas has really lasted more than a month for me! I had Thanksgiving and Christmas with my parents and both kids in Wisconsin on November 26th, Christmas with M and my daughter on December 24th, and now tonight we combine Christmas and New Year's Eve with M's mother!

But without further ado, here are this month's highs and lows:


  • spending a few hours at the Tübingen Chocolate festival with my daughter

  • visiting Esslingen's Weihnachtsmarkt und Mittelaltermarkt

  • a bus trip to Bad Wimpfen with my daughter for its Weihnachtsmarkt

  • spending five days in Rome with my daughter - I was not as "wow-ed" as I thought I would be at the time, but as time has passed I have realized how glad I am we went there and had that experience. 

  • seeing Disney's musical Tarzan at the Apollo Theater in Stuttgart

  • going to Stuttgart's Weihnachtsmarkt and riding the Paternoster (open, constantly-moving elevator) in the Rathaus with my daughter's friend

  • interviewing an Esslingen author, two of whose books I have read and enjoyed; this was really my daughter's thing, which she arranged to aid in her senior project about Schwabenkrimis (Swabian crime novels), but I came along and enjoyed meeting and chatting with her!

  • several days of having no plans whatsoever where we just stayed home (and cleaned, read, did laundry, etc.)!

  • receiving ten Christmas cards and letters from family and friends in the U.S. I used to receive many more before I moved here, but the number sinks with every year. I hope it's not that Christmas cards are becoming a thing of the past, because I love them!

  • Christmas Eve with M and my daughter

  • getting an email from my son saying he earned a 3.692 GPA in his first semester at UW-Green Bay! That's three As and a B! (Ähm...better than his mother did most terms in college)

  • eating the sausage rolls Martin made

  • lamb Stew for dinner on Christmas Day - but we'd nibbled on sausage rolls and weren't even hungry for it!

  • making Maultaschen with my daughter on Christmas Day - we froze them to eat on the weekend

  • Sunday brunch at our favorite local restaurant

  • welcoming my Schwiegermutter, who will spend a few days with us around Silvester (New Year's Eve)

  • getting an email from a former student (although we teachers don't have favorites, he was definitely one of those!), whose cousin I happened to be sitting next to while flying from Frankfurt to Chicago in November! I usually don't chat on planes, but he was wearing a Wisconsin Badgers hat and I decided after several hours to ask him if he was from Wisconsin. Turns out he lives in the town where I lived for 17 years and had cousins who attended the school where I taught...

  • booking a week at one of Glengorm Castle's self-catering apartments on the Isle of Mull in Scotland for September, 2015. (This is where we got married in 2006.)  OMG!!!!

  • Watching "Dinner for One" on Silvester (New Year's Eve). It's tradition!


  • having to listen to a bunch of darn annoying, disruptive, unchaperoned teenagers during Tarzan

  • finishing preparing the meat filling for the Maultaschen and realizing I had not thawed the Nudelteig (pasta dough). It takes six hours to thaw.

  • saying good-bye to my daughter who is returning to college; I'll see her (and my son) again in June when she graduates from Lawrence University!

  • Realizing at 17:00 on Silvester (New Year's Eve) that I forgot to buy the Schweinebraten (pork roast) for our New Year's Day dinner. The store closed at 16:00 and will reopen on January 2nd. Oops. 

Questions of the Month:

  1. Why are there pairs of policemen and/or military personnel all over Rome? Does this mean the city is very dangerous, or that it's a safe place because armed cops & soldiers are all over??

  2. Why would parents or teachers allow a group of unruly young teenagers sit in a theater without supervision? And why, after both my daughter and then I "shushed" those kids and they got disparaging looks from others around us, did they not realize or care that they were disrupting other people?

  3. The fireworks are for 12:00 midnight. Why have people in our neighborhood set them off at 10:00 am, 17:00, and 17:40?

  4. How could I forget to buy the damn roast?!?

  5. "So, what do we have in the freezer?"  (Turns out we have four duck legs. Duck it is!)

Happy New Year, everyone!  Wir wünschen euch einen guten Rutsch ins Neujahr!  (We wish you a good slide into the New Year!)


  1. Happy New Year, Beth!

    I think I can answer #3 for you. We had my husband's young nieces visiting his parents' place for Silvester and we set off a couple of fireworks around 6:30pm so they could see a few before they went to bed around 9:30pm. Could be that your neighbours had little ones around who wanted to see fireworks before bed. :) I think 10am is a little early, though!

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Tarzan in Stuttgart. I keep seeing posters advertising the musical all around the city and have been curious about going to see it. Maybe a goal for the new year!

    1. Happy New Year to you also! You must be right about the early fireworks - makes sense to set them off early for kids who don't stay up that late. Probably the 10am one was a practice.

      The theatrics and staging of Tarzan are quite amazing, and there are nice new songs that don't appear in the movie. I admit I liked "König der Löwen" and "Mama Mia" better, but I can recommend "Tarzan".

  2. The fireworks were going off all day because Germans are crazy when it comes to fireworks.

    Happy New Year to you! Sounds like December was a great month.. I hope it continues into January :-)

    1. I guess they only get that one day/night to blow stuff up... On our walk today we passed lots of evidence of people having celebrated on Silvester and leaving their garbage - wrapping from fireworks, empty bottles, packs of cigs - along pathsides and near benches. That _really_ irks me. Clean up your crap, people!

      I hope you have a good month, too!