Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O Tannenbaum

Throughout late November and the first part of December, we have gotten daily dustings of snow. Even I, still remembering warm winter holidays in Hong Kong, have to admit that the snowy forests and fields that surround us are beautiful. The kids say it is not enough snow to build a snow man or have a proper snow ball fight, but it is just enough to set the mood. With Bavaria’s many Christmas markets and their big advent tradition, we are all more than ready for Christmas.

We recently drove outside of Munich to a Christmas tree farm. There we found a full scale Christmas operation. First, we came upon a Christmas market. Christmas markets here vary but essentially include stalls selling Christmas decorations, handmade gifts and lots of food and gluwein and kinderpunch. From there, we loaded into the back of tractors, which took us out into the hills. We warmed up by a bonfire and tried to motivate to leave the warmth and cut down our tree.
The cold is hard to explain. It is cold, about -6C which is in the 20’s. But more than that, we just aren’t appropriately dressed. We have forgotten the layering concept and haven’t even dug old winter clothes out of the basement yet. Tori lost her coat last week at school. Adam wasn’t wearing socks. The kids kept telling me their feet were falling asleep or “buzzing.” I finally realized what they were saying and told them that is what cold feels like. I think it was a lightning bolt moment and it will all be better from here on out but that is probably wishful thinking.
Despite the extreme cold, we found a tree and cut it down. We bundled it up and got it back on the next homeward bound tractor. The wait for the tractor was a little long and involved much more time by the fire. The kids, who don’t care for the warm kinderpunch served here, took a cup and just held it for warmth. When we finally got on the tractor we stood next to a father and his three year old twins. They all seemed fine in the cold. The father told us that the little boys went to the “waldkindergarten” or forest kindergarten. There kids play in the forest all year round. While this sounds like torture, the kids definitely learn about wet clothes and cold fingers. A lesson we are still trying to master. I see the allure, especially with the added degree of difficulty in getting twins out the door.


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