1. The nearly dead silence in our small town.* No traffic noises, only one dog that barks occasionally, and a phone that only rings about twice a week.
*Except on Saturdays. That's chain saw day. If you have one, apparently you saw stuff on Saturdays.
2. Rolladen (see a few entries back). These are the shutters, which you can close completely to darken the room. If your door and your Rolladen are closed, your room will be black as pitch even in the middle of the day. This, combined with the quiet, means if there's nothing you have to do, you can sleep for hours and hours. I hear college kids like that sort of thing during holidays.
3. Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets), especially the one in Esslingen, which we'll go to on your first day here. There is a medieval market there as well as the "regular" Christmas market, and the atmosphere is so wonderful and festive. You'll be able to find fabulous gifts for your girlfriend here.
4. Train travel. We can get anywhere we want to go by train and bus. And we have plenty of day trip options: Freudenstadt, Esslingen, Stuttgart, Ulm, Tübingen...
5. Dinner and/or brunch at our favorite local restaurant, Straubs Krone. Think of the most fabulous meal you've ever eaten at a restaurant and multiply the deliciousness by a factor of 10. We will recommend you order the Zwiebelrostbraten. I'm salivating just thinking about it.
6. No yelling. We do not shout to or at each other through the house. Not only because the walls are made of concrete, but because...well, it's just rude. If I need you and don't see you, I'll come find you.
7. The fresh, clean, crisp Black Forest air.
8. German bread, pretzels, and rolls.
9. No dog poo or pee in the house, in your bedroom, or on your work uniform, because we don't have pets. We do have cats on walkabout strolling through our yard every day and lots of snails and slugs in the garden, but that's it for wildlife.
10. Little, if any, shoveling because we hardly get any snow. If it does happen to snow while you're here, yes, we would like your help. It might take 15 minutes (5 if we work together).
11. The Mercedes Benz Museum near Stuttgart. Even your sister liked it!
12. The home-cooked dinners we'll cook while you're here, for instance:
Irish Lamb Stew
Schweinebraten & Roast Potatoes
Bratkartoffeln and whatever we feel like making with them
13. Our family holiday traditions:
Decorating the tree, then watching a holiday film
Having a long, slow meal (probably Raclette)
Bescherung (exchanging of gifts)
No stress, no traveling
Relax all day, eat another big meal, and take a long walk
Still no stress, still no traveling
Boxing Day (26. December):
There's still nothing open (stores, etc.), so it's another relaxing day.
Silvester (New Year's Eve):
"Dinner for One", of course
Fireworks and Sekt (champagne) at midnight
There are several things you'll notice I didn't include:
a. Driving on the Autobahn (Martin will have his winter tires on anyway, so he can only go about 125mph in the few spots where there's no speed limit and no traffic jam)
b. Drinking age of 16 (yes, you can have Sekt on Silvester)
c. Constantly texting & tweeting (too expensive overseas, and there are other things in life)
d. Wearing Lederhosen (I don't think I'd get away with making you do that twice)
e. Church (I really wanted to go last year, and Martin came with me! Sadly, it was utterly uninspiring. And since you've been over-churched in WI, I didn't think you'd mind. I will absolutely go if either you or your sister wishes to.)
I think we will have a lovely time, and I'm looking forward to both children being here for Christmas and New Year's this year. This will be my son's first time seeing and staying at our house! Martin's mother will join us for the holidays, and we already know from past trips that we all travel well and get along well together. So there's a lot to look forward to.
I'll end with one of my favorite photos of my dear son, looking like a Hummelfigur.
Granted, that was a few years ago...