Childhood Memories of Christmas in Germany
My grandparents migrated from Germany long before I was even a twinkle in my father's eye. My father was two at the time and doesn't remember much of his life in Germany. My grandmother, though, has always stayed in touch with her brothers and sisters remaining in Germany and often longed for a Christmas spent with her family back home. When I was eight, my father made that wish come true for her.
I can still remember the look on my grandmother's face that when my father told her that he was taking her and his family to Germany for two weeks at Christmas (my grandfather had passed the year prior). She had never managed to be in Germany at Christmas time since she left, she always spent Christmas with my grandfather, my father, and our family. She started exclaiming all sorts of things in German and hugging my father, sobbing the whole time.
We arrived in Germany on December 23rd. I was exhausted, but I couldn't sleep as my grandmother kept poking me awake, trying to get me to look at all the decorations in her hometown. I said to her that I thought everything looked rather plain - I was used to the bright lights and almost garish decorations of home. She just laughed, and told me to look closer. When I did, I realized how beautiful everything was, and how very GREEN. There were boughs of fir and pine everywhere. Most were tied on with big red bows, and candles were lit in every window. I was in awe.
We reached her sister's home; we'd be staying with various relatives throughout the two weeks. It was the last Sunday of Advent, and my great aunt asked me to light the Advent candle for the evening. I was so honored - my parents never let me anywhere NEAR our Advent wreath at home. I remember being very nervous that I would drop the lighting candle and catch the wreath on fire.
Christmas Eve, we went to my grandmother's childhood church. I remember her weeping throughout the service. I asked my father why my grandmother was so sad. He told me that it was a combination of happy that she was home again, and sad that my grandfather couldn't be there to spend the time with her. I slid across the pew to give my grandmother a hug.
When we returned home from church, I saw a room open that had previously been shut. I thought it was just a spare bedroom or something, until I saw the glow coming from the Christmas tree. It was glorious. They used real candles on the tree, and the presents were so beautifully wrapped. That's an image I'll never forget.
After the presents came a feast. I must confess that many of the foods were so different for me that I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have. The goose was quite good, and then I loved the marzipan fruits, cookies, and chocolates.
We stayed in Germany through the Feast of the Epiphany, leaving on January 7th. I met so many family members in those weeks, many of which I haven't spoken to since. My grandmother passed away three months later. My father always said that she was just waiting to be able to spend one more Christmas in Germany. All I know is that Christmas in Germany is one I will never forget.